THE Supreme Court has ruled that the election of James Marape as prime minister on May 30 last year was valid and proper.
The unanimous ruling by a five-man bench comprising Chief Justice Sir Gibbs Salika, Justice David Cannings, Justice Derek Hartshorn, Justice Ere Kariko and Justice George Manuhu dismissed the application filed by Opposition Leader Belden Namah seeking to declare Marape’s election as unconstitutional.
The judges ruled that the issues which arose from the election “are internal procedural matters of parliament which are non-justiciable, that should be resolved in parliament and not by the court”.
Sir Gibbs said, it was an “opportunity lost” by Namah when he did not object or raised a point of order against Speaker Job Pomat during the election. Thus the Speaker’s decision was non-justiciable, and that the court could not interfere.
“All members of parliament have duties and responsibility to participate in debating issues on the floor of parliament, which is why they are elected,” Sir Gibbs said.
“They should not come running to the court all the time to find answers. Like the courts, Parliament has its own internal processes, practices and procedures to guide it on parliamentary and constitutional procedures in the form of standing orders.”
Namah was seeking to invoke the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court to interpret specific sections of the Constitution to declare Marape’s appointment null and void.
Aitape-Lumi MP Patrick Pruaitch had nominated Ialibu-Pangia MP Peter O’Neill as prime minister. Namah seconded the motion. O’Neill accepted the nomination
Rabaul MP Dr Allan Marat then nominated Moresby North West MP Sir Mekere Morauta who also accepted.
Imbonggu MP Pila Niningi moved that nominations be closed seconded by Manus Governor Charlie Benjamin. Pomat closed the nominations.
After nominations were closed, O’Neill advised Pomat of his decision to withdraw his nomination. Pomat accepted O’Neill’s withdrawal of the nomination.
Namah through his lawyers argued that various provisions of the constitution were breached as a result of the speaker not adhering to the parliamentary standing orders.
Sir Gibbs said leave was required in question of O’Neill’s withdrawal of nomination but Pomat appeared to have granted leave by accepting the withdrawal.
Parlt awaitingcourt ruling on sitting
PRIME Minister James Marape says unless the Supreme Court rules otherwise, Parliament has been adjourned to April 20 next year.
The court is dealing with a case filed by Ialibu-Pangia MP Peter O’Neill two weeks ago to have a sitting of Parliament on Nov 17 declared unconstitutional as a motion had already been passed four days earlier that it be adjourned to tomorrow, Dec 1.
The Nov 17 sitting was attended by 50 Government MPs as the Opposition MPs had already left Port Moresby. The 2021 national budget was also passed.
Marape said Cabinet Ministers were working on their district and provincial programmes and preparing for 2021.
He said 2021 “will be an important year for those who want to be PM, and for those who want to contest the 2022 elections”.
“We will prepare well in 2021. That’s why we adjourned Parliament to April to give (time) for schools to restart in January, and for us to prepare common roll updates, national census and the elections in 2022,” he said.
PM praises independence, robustness of judiciary
PRIME MINISTER James Marape has commended the robustness and functionality of the judiciary which continues to support the country in its democratic functions.
He told reporters at a resort where Government MPs have been camping for the past fortnight that the judiciary had always maintained its independence and robustness.
A five-man Supreme Court unanimously ruled on Friday that Marape’s election in Parliament as PM on May 30 last year was constitutional and valid.
Opposition Leader Belden Namah had asked the court to declare Marape’s appointment as PM unconstitutional.
Marape said he had always encouraged “investors and everyone who looks into PNG (that) one of the (nation’s) greatest strengths is the robustness, independence and functionality of our judiciary”.
“Even the politics we play in Parliament or the jostle for power in the executive arm, the robustness and the steady hand of our judiciary bring common sense and allow our country to function as democratic nations are supposed to operate and function,” he said.
Meanwhile National Capital District Governor and Social Democratic Party leader Powes Parkop is with the Government, according to Moresby South MP Justin Tkatchenko.
“It is my decision in consultation with my SDP leader Powes Parkop to come to (the Government) camp to join the legitimate Government to continue the good work and to create the stability that we need in our country. Simple as that,” he said.
“What is happening on the other side is just a power grab.”
THE 18-month grace period for a motion of no confidence to be moved lapses today as Opposition leader Belden Namah returned yesterday to Port Moresby with 49 other MPs from Vanimo, West Sepik.
“We are ready,” he said.
On board the Air Niugini flight were 50 MPs including Namah. He said seven were in Port Moresby waiting for them to meet up at the Crowne Hotel.
Last Friday, the Opposition welcomed the five-man bench Supreme Court decision to dismiss the application by Namah on the legitimacy of the election of Prime Minister James Marape.
According to the Opposition, the Supreme Court in its ruling, said that the decision by the Parliament was made according to the parliamentary process so the court, therefore cannot inquire into a decision of the majority of the MPs, particularly when there was no dissension to the decision by any member of parliament on Ialibu-Pangia MP Peter O’Neill decision to withdraw his nomination, which was accepted by the Speaker.
Namah who had the support of other coalition party leaders and the MPs in the Vanimo camp said, “the decision, handed down by the Supreme Court ends the last 18 months of speculation on whether or not Marape was legitimately elected as the PM because of the withdrawal of the former PM O’Neill as a candidate prior to that vote for PM.”
“However, it is not the reason for the current step to adjourn Parliament by a majority vote to Dec 1 on Friday Nov 13.
“In 2019, we desired for a change and we elected the PM, according to our constitution and parliamentary process there is an opportunity given to MPs to question whether he is doing a good job.
“The 18 months have lapsed and we adjourned parliament from Nov 13 to Dec 1 to allow for that,” Namah said.
We welcome the news from the Supreme Court decision that has upheld Parliament’s majority vote as legal.”