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PNG PM Marape joins case

The Supreme Court has granted an application by Papua New Guinea Prime Minister James Marape to intervene in a reference filed by Opposition Leader Belden Namah questioning the legality of the former’s election in Parliament in May.

Justice Derek Hartshorn, sitting as a single Supreme Court judge Monday in Waigani, granted Marape’s application because his election as prime minister on 30 May  was the matter before the court.

Justice Hartshorn also granted an application by Speaker Job Pomat on the grounds that he had closed nominations before former prime minister Peter O’Neill had withdrawn his nomination.

The court had earlier allowed Justice Minister and Attorney-General Davis Steven to intervene because he is the State’s principal legal adviser to the National Executive Council.

The court however reserved its decision on an application by Rabaul MP and deputy opposition leader Dr Allan Marat to intervene.

His lawyer Mathew Tamutai submitted that Dr Marat had nominated Moresby North-West MP Sir Mekere Morauta for the post of prime minister after O’Neill had stood down.

Shortly after nominations were closed, O’Neill withdrew his nomination which was granted by Speaker Pomat.

Tamutai submitted that Marat’s move was “calculated to specifically use parliamentary standing orders which accounts for a special manner of voting by elimination in respect of three nominations”.

“But my client was denied that opportunity. The speaker after closing the nominations did not rule in clear terms with reasons in respect of the purported withdrawal of the acceptance of the nomination of O’Neill.

“Thus O’Neill is still a candidate, but the speaker misled parliament to vote on only two nominees,” he said.

Meanwhile, Maprik MP John Simon appeared before a leadership tribunal in Waigani following a Supreme Court order that the tribunal proceed with its inquiry into allegations of official corruption against him.

The tribunal is made up of Justice Nicholas Miviri and magistrates Michael Apie’e and Nancy Lipai.

It was suspended on 15 July pending a decision by the Supreme Court on matters raised by Simon through his lawyer Greg Sheppard regarding the ombudsman commission quorum.

A five-man Supreme Court bench consisting of Deputy Chief Justice Ambeng Kandakasi and Justice Ellenas Batari, Justice David Cannings, Justice Allen David and Justice Derek Hartshorn upheld submissions by the public prosecutor and the ombudsman commission that two members of the commission could decide on referring someone to the tribunal

The bench on 27 September ordered the tribunal return to proceed.

The tribunal Monday ordered Public Prosecutor Pondros Kaluwin to serve submissions to Sheppard and that Sheppard respond to the submissions.

The matter returns today.


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