Still fighting disqualification

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SUPREME Court has allowed Attorney-General Pila Niningi and former Anglimp-South Waghi Open candidate Justin Parker to join the special reference filed by former Madang governor James Yali.
Yali filed the special reference challenging Electoral Commissioner Simon Sinai’s decision to disqualify convicts under the new Amended Parliament Act on June 26 following a Supreme Court order.
Justice Collin Makail at Waigani yesterday ordered for the proceeding to be amended, necessary documents for parties to be filed and served, and the matter to return on July 14 for hearing on the standing of the proceeding.
Parker applied to join Yali as the second applicant as he was also disqualified under Section 103(3b) of the Amended Act to contest General Election 2022 (GE2022).
Parker was caught under that Act because he was convicted and sentenced 13 years for murder in 2015.
The parties in the proceeding were Public Solicitor, Public Prosecutor, Clerk of Parliament Kala Aufa and Niningi who joined yesterday.
Parker’s lawyer Justin Wohuinangu said the matter needed urgent court attention as its result would determine whether Paker and Yali would continue in GE2022.
Aufa’s lawyer Steven Ranewa argued that the matter did not need urgent attention as both Yali and Parker were no longer a candidates.
Ranewa said: “We are already in the polling week and it would not make much of a difference.”
Solicitor-General Tauvasa Tanuvasa, representing Niningi, said the attorney-general would oppose that Yali and Parker did not have the grounds to move the application.
“As far as the election is concerned, polling starts today (yesterday) and it’s really up to Parker and Yali to decide on the utility of the proceedings because there is overwhelming evidence that the constitutional amendment number 24, under electoral reform was passed and it has become law,” he said,
Yali filed the special reference saying the constitutional amendment of section 103(3b) which the Court had relied to disqualify the convict was not properly passed and should be revised.

Tondop to voters: Think of your children’s future

HIGHLANDS East Deputy Commander Chief Superintendent Joseph Tondop says voters must think of the future of their children when they cast their ballots to elect their leaders in Chimbu.
“Do not think about today only and sell your votes,” he said.
“Pray and seek good and trustworthy leaders from God.”
Speaking at a joint security task force awareness on violence-free, fair and peaceful election in Kundiawa last week, Tondop told voters to screen the candidates properly and choose the best.
“Go for someone who can bring services back to the community, district and the province,” he said.
“You need to elect leaders who are selfless and think about the people first.”
Tondop reminded voters that a general election was not something to play around with.
“General elections will change this country and the future of your children,” he said.
“Other countries are developed because of strong leadership and government.
“We have everything in our country but we need good leaders to manage the resources for benefit of the people and country.”

National Court throws out ex-Hagen RO’s appeal

THE National Court has dismissed an application by former returning officer for Hagen open Willie Ropa, saying there was no arguable case that should move towards a substantive review.
Judge Joseph Yagi presiding at Waigani made this ruling yesterday.
On June 2, Electoral Commissioner Simon Sinai made a decision to revoke Ropa as the returning officer for Hagen open and appointed Pius Nop.
Ropa applied for the position which was advertised and he was shortlisted and appointed on May 5. On May 6, the notice was published in the National Gazette.
On May 12, the National Court restrained Ropa from performing his powers, functions and responsibilities in a court proceeding.
The restraining order was successfully challenged in the Supreme Court by the PNG Electoral Commission, resulting in the National Court order being stayed.
In effect, Ropa continued to perform his powers, functions and responsibilities.
The proceeding was eventually withdrawn.
On June 2, Sinai revoked Ropa’s appointment.
The notice of revocation was published in the National Gazette on June 3.
In the same National Gazette, Sinai appointed Nop.
Ropa submitted that he was not notified of the intention or the steps taken to revoke his appointment and was surprised to learn it through the National Gazette.
He said leave should be granted to review that decision because he had enough interest in bringing the application, there was no delay, no administrative or statutory remedy available and that there was an arguable case.
State through Solicitor General Tauvasa Tanuvasa argued that Ropa failed to comply with requirement of Order 16 Rule 3(3) of the National Court rules in that the notice to the secretary for Justice was given less than the prescribed period of two days and, therefore, the application was incompetent.
State also raised that the notice of motion dated June 14 and filed June 16 prior to leave being granted was incompetent.
Yagi said the only requirement that was strongly contested by the State was the requirement for Ropa to demonstrate arguable case.
“It is the State’s contention that the failure to plead the statutory breach is fatal to satisfying the requirement.
“I agree with the submission by the State,” Yagi added.
“Ropa’s case is that he was appointed as the RO by virtue of the Organic Law on National and Local Level Government Elections.
“However, he has not pleaded the breach under the Organic Law.
“Instead, Ropa relies on constitutional notion of natural justice which is stipulated under Section 59(2) of the Constitution.
“It is common ground that the Organic Law does not prescribe any procedure for removal or dismissal or revocation in the appointment of the RO.
“The appointment of the RO is solely for the purpose of delegated powers and functions on behalf of the Electoral Commission by virtue of Section 18 of the Organic Law.
“To my mind, the appointment of the RO is not permanent nor is it for a fixed term.”
He dismissed the application and ordered Ropa to pay the State costs in the proceedings on a party-party basis, if not agreed, to be taxed.