GG recognises O’Neill as PM

Main Stories, National

The National, Tuesday 20th December 2011

GOVERNOR-General Sir Michael Ogio has recognised the O’Neill-Namah government, admitting that his decision to swear in the Somare cabinet was wrong.
Sir Michael had earlier written to Speaker Jeffrey Nape admitting that the advice he had received to swear in the Somare government was flawed.
“As representative of the Queen and Head of State, I have reconsidered my earlier decision based on advice given me and upon receipt of credible advice of late, I now recognise the O’Neill-Namah group as the legitimate government,” the governor-general said in his letter to Nape.
Parliament immediately moved to rescind its decision on the suspension of the governor-general.
Members of the O’Neill-Namah group then left Parliament House in four busloads to Government House to pay a courtesy call on Sir Michael.
Deputy Speaker Francis Marus immediately signed instruments to rescind the suspension of the governor-general, allowing Sir Michael to meet O’Neill, his deputy Belden Namah, cabinet ministers and members of parliament at Government House.
Sir Michael acknowledged in a statement that he had no reserve powers and that he could only act on advice from parliament through the speaker on the appointment of a prime minister.
“Parliament is supreme. It alone can decide who is prime minister.”
Sir Michael said he now accepted that he could not take advice from the state solicitor, the legislative counsel and any other officer of the state.
He said the advice he had received was flawed.
Sir Michael said he had not taken into account parliament’s decision to remove Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare as member for East Sepik on Dec 9 and parliament’s amendments to the Prime Minister & NEC Act, which dismissed Somare as prime minister.
“Governor-general Sir Michael Ogio now recognises parliament’s election of O’Neill as prime minister.
“O’Neill was correctly sworn in by the acting governor-general.”
Sir Michael called on all members of parliament and the people of Papua New Guinea to understand the untenable situation he had been placed in.
“It is now time for MPs to join together on the floor of parliament and let the normal democratic process takes its course.
“The most important thing that can happen now is for reconciliation to take place on the floor of parliament and for the business of the nation to resume.”
After the short ceremony, O’Neill thanked the governor-general for his humility and courage to announce that parliament was supreme.
He thanked Papua New Guineans for showing restraint and maturity during this time and said “people can now enjoy the festive season with only one legitimate government”.