House boycott

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THE Opposition will boycott the parliamentary session starting today in protest against the decision by the National Alliance-led Government to recall Parliament before Nov 10, describing the move as “illegal” and showing a “wilful disregard” for the nation’s laws.
“As far as the Opposition is concerned, the set date for Parliament to sit next is Nov 10. That is when we will attend,” Opposition leader Sir Mekere Morauta declared yesterday.
Sources say Government backbenchers and several governors will join the protest.
On July 29, Parliament abruptly adjourned to Nov 10, sparking widespread outrage as it was deemed to be a deliberate violation of the Constitution.
The Opposition subsequently referred Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare, leader of Government Business Paul Tiensten and Speaker Jeffrey Nape to the Ombudsman Commission for possible prosecution for breaching the Constitution and the Leadership Code.
The protest now was because, so far, the Ombudsman Commission had not acted on the referrals and the Government had seen fit to violate the Constitution again, the Opposition said.
Sir Mekere and his Opposition colleagues are concerned that the adjournment is illegal and a sitting should not be held until a deliberation is made on the adjournment.
“To our knowledge, nothing has happened. Our position is that the Parliament cannot and should not mee tunless the July adjournment is constitutionally validated or otherwise,” Sir Mekere declared.
He said the three leaders referred had broken their oath of office to uphold the Constitution and they must face the consequences.
When Parliament was adjourned in July, it had sat for only 41 days, 22 days short of the required 63 sitting days, in the last parliamentary year.
The other basis for the boycott is that there was no valid reason for the early recall.
Sir Mekere said the provision to recall the House related to situations of real emergency facing the nation – imminent danger of war, national strife or natural disaster.
“It exists to ensure that for example, Parliament is called to ratify a State of Emergency that has been declared by an executive government,” he said before adding that no SoE had been declared, so why was Parliament being recalled.
As far as the Opposition is concerned they “have no idea why Parliament has been recalled and no idea of the agenda or the session’s duration”.
“Why is Parliament being recalled? What are the issues of national emergency that justify the early recall of Parliament?” Sir Mekere asked.
Attempts to get a response from the offices of the Prime Minister, the Speaker and the leader of Government Business were futile as telephone calls rang out and emails were not replied.
But it is believed that high on the agenda will be the National Strategic Plan 2010-50, the dysentery and cholera outbreak, and the passage of legislation for the creation of a transitional authority for the new Hela and Jiwaka provinces.
Other major legislations such as a bill to have women in Parliament, to increase Cabinet’s size by four members and a bill to amend the powers of the Ombudsman Commission are likely to be raised. 
Earlier, the PM’s office said that the early recall of Parliament was to clear various legislations so the House could focus more on the 2010 Budget in next month’s session.