A Supreme Court decision has once again put Papua New Guinea in crisis. The court has again declared that the current government, led by Peter O’Neill, is illegal – this time on the eve of scheduled elections. Parliament has voted to declare a State of Emergency, and the Chief Justice has been arrested.
The decision was a majority with two of the five judges dissenting. On May 21st, the chief justice, Sir Salamo Injia, joined two other judges in upholding the Supreme Court’s December verdict, which ordered the restoration of Mr O’Neill’s predecessor as prime minister, Sir Michael Somare.
One of the dissenting judges, Gibbs Salika, the deputy chief justice, said the court’s deliberations had been compromised by the circulation of an e-mail from one of the majority judges which called the O’Neill administration an “illegal regime”.
Another dissenting judge said endorsing the majority verdict would be contrary to his judicial oath of office.
A senior member of the office of Governor-General Sir Michael Ogio says the head of state has refused to sign any documents presented by parliamentary elected prime minister Peter O’Neill or from his court-appointed rival for the top job, Sir Michael Somare.
The spokesman says the governor-general has also refused to sign an instrument recalling parliament for a special sitting last week in which the government voted for a state of emergency in three provinces including the capital, Port Moresby.
News category: Pacific.