11 Nov 2003

PNG government suspends top legal officer

12:02 pm on 11 November 2003

Papua New Guinea's attorney-general, Francis Damem, has been suspended for publicly criticising the Bougainville draft constitution.

Mr Damem , whose office has been holding the draft for the last six months, described it as containing a number of defects and anomalies that would have to be addressed.

His comments upset many MPs including the Minister of Bougainville Affairs, Sir Peter Barter, who said he was confident the draft constitution was consistent with the national constitution.

Sir Peter also accused the attorney general of acting outside his brief by querying some of the actions of the National Parliament in amending the PNG constitution to allow for Bougainville's autonomy.

The justice minister, Mark Maipakai, says the attorney general had no authority to make any statement about Bougainville.

He says the state solicitor will be the acting attorney general.