Process to eject Somare begins

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The National – Friday, July 1, 2011

THE national government will start the process of removing Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare from office basing its decision on medical grounds.
Acting Prime Minister Sam Abal and Attorney-General Sir Arnold Amet announced the decision yesterday in a media conference in Port Moresby.
Abal said it was a sensitive national matter, which also involved medical and government protocol issues of another country. However, the government, with the support of his coalition partners, would follow the advice of Sir Arnold, its chief legal adviser.
“As a government we have to deal with the issues which are very sensitive, that we do not go wrong or we may take action that is not welcomed by the people because the prime minister had led the country for a very long time,” he said.
Governing coalition leaders at the media conference included Gabriel Kapris (PAP), William Duma (URP), Peter Ipatas (PP), Peter O’Neill (PNC), Moses Maladina (RDP) and Andrew Kumbakor (Pangu).
Abal said Sir Arnold briefed the cabinet on Wednesday on the processes to be followed. Sir Arnold said section 142(5)(c) of the Constitution provided that “the prime minister may be removed from office by the head of state, acting in accordance with a decision of parliament, if the speaker advises parliament that two medical practitioners have jointly reported in accordance with an Act of Parliament that, in their joint professional opinions, the prime minister is unfit, by reason of physical or mental incapacity, to carry out the duties of his office”.
Arthur Somare, Sir Michael’s son, this week announced, on behalf of his family that based on medical grounds they would like Sir Michael to retire from active politics.
They wanted him to recover from his medical condition at his own pace and without the pressure of returning to active politics.
Sir Arnold said the government would proceed on the assumption that Sir Michael was physically or mentally incapable of making the personal decision to resign.
He said the government would put into motion the invocation of section 142(5)(c) of the Constitution and section 6 of the Prime Minister and NEC Act.
“The government should request the prime minister’s personal physician to, in consultation with the specialist doctors in the Singapore hospital who have been attending to his condition, provide an official historical report of the prime minister’s condition, to the present time,” he said.
Sir Arnold said the NEC would then consider the appropriate advice to be given to the head of state, which may request the PNG Medical Board to appoint two doctors to examine the prime minister and decide within 28 days whether he was medically fit to remain in office.