The National, Thuresday 19th January 2012
By ISAAC NICHOLAS
THE row over who the legitimate government is came to a head in parliament yesterday after Sir Michael Somare made an unannounced appearance.
It triggered off a heated exchange of words with MPs loyal to Peter O’Neill as Sir Michael walked up to the speaker’s chair to deliver a copy of the Supreme Court order of Dec 12.
The court order had restored Sir Michael as prime minister.
The confrontation forced Deputy Speaker Francis Marus to suspend the sitting after he ordered Sir Michael to leave the parliamentary chamber.
The heated exchanges included one in which Kerowagi MP Guma Wau called Nawaeb MP Timothy Bonga a criminal. Wau pointed a finger at Bonga and challenged him to a fight. But he was stopped by other MPs.
Deputy Prime Minister Belden Namah shouted across the floor to remove the “stranger” (Sir Michael) who he claimed was no longer an MP.
The session started with the morning prayer and Question Time.
NCD Governor Powes Parkop was directing questions at Agriculture Minister Sir Puka Temu on the Trukai rice advertisement on another rice firm that wanted to take over a monopoly over rice production and supply.
It was then that Sir Michael and his group came into the chamber, stood at the back until Parkop completed his questions.
Sir Michael’s group of about 20 MPs then walked to the speaker’s chair where Sir Michael presented the court order.
Bulolo MP Sam Basil raised a point of order that there was a “stranger” on the floor. Sir Michael replied: “Who is the stranger?”
Sir Michael later told the media that the move was to petition the speaker to enforce the Supreme Court ruling in allocating his government members their rightful seats in parliament.
He said he was not a “stranger” after winning nine general elections and serving 44 uninterrupted years as the member for East Sepik.
On Tuesday afternoon, Sir Michael visited the Speaker of Parliament, Jeffery Nape, to urge him to comply with the Supreme Court order of Dec 12, 2011.
He said his group was making a point that they were MPs who should be allocated their rightful places in the house.
Sir Michael was accompanied by the referrer of the Supreme Court reference, East Sepik Governor Peter Wararu and a member of his constituency, Tony Aimo, into the parliamentary chamber.
He said his members merely followed parliamentary procedures by petitioning the acting speaker with the court order so that parliament could comply with.
Prime Minister Peter O’Neill described the action of Sir Michael and his followers as “disgraceful and disrespectful”.
“There are a handful of MPs who stubbornly use the old man in that manner for their own political gain,” O’Neill said.
“You cannot serve court orders in parliament and it is disgraceful because parliament is a separate arm of government.”