GG approval makes O’Neill legitimate PM

National, Normal

The National, Tuesday 20th December 2011

PETER O’Neill is the legitimate Prime Minister – after he was officially recognised by Governor-General Sir Michael Ogio yesterday.
Sir Michael revoked a decision he made last week to recognise Sir Michael Somare as prime minister following the Supreme Court ruling restoring him to that position.
He said the decision was based on bad advice from the state solicitor and the first legislative counsel.
Parliament in turn lifted it is decision to suspend Ogio as governor-general.
He had written to the speaker of parliament confirming that he recognised O’Neill as prime minister.
He added that the swearing-in of O’Neill’s cabinet by the Speaker Jeffrey Nape last week was legitimate.
On Dec 12, parliament passed the Prime Minister and the National Executive Council amendment Bill, which disqualified Somare as MP.
It meant he could not become prime minister.
On Dec 13, a day after the Supreme Court declared Somare as the legitimate prime minister, the governor-general declared Somare as the legitimate prime minister and swore him in.
However, parliament using its numerical strength moved a motion of confidence in O’Neill confirming him as prime minister.
The unchallenged parliament’s decision superseded the supreme court decision and recognised O’Neill as the PM.
Ogio said following advice, he had come to the conclusion that his decision to swear in the Somare faction was wrong.
He acknowledged that he had no reserve powers and that he could only act on advice of parliament through the speaker on the appointment of a prime minister.
“Parliament is supreme and it alone can act on advice from the parliament through the speaker on the appointment of a prime minister,” he said.
“It is now time for members of parliament to join together on the floor of parliament and let normal democratic processes take their course.”
He said the most important thing was for reconciliation to take place in parliament.
O’Neill said the nation had acted maturely and thanked everyone for keeping the peace through out the political wrangling since Dec 9.