30 Jan 2004

PNG opposition leader backs Ombudsman over prolonged parliamentary adjournment

4:55 pm on 30 January 2004

The Papua New Guinea Opposition leader Sir Mekere Morauta has backed the Ombudsman's criticism of the prolonged Parliamentary adjournment.

The Government announced last week it would adjourn until June 29th - a move which would ensure the Sir Michael Somare administration delays any possible vote of no confidence.

The Prime Minister attacked Mr Geno for speaking out, saying he was grandstanding, but Sir Mekere says the Ombudsman was fulfilling his constitutional duty.

Our correspondent Peter Niesi says the Ombudsman was concerned the adjournment seemed to be contrary to the legal requirement for 63 sitting days in a calendar year.

"The idea was to spread out the sequence evenly so that the executive government is always held under the scrutiny of parliament. Now, by the adjournment, it means that the government will have to have a marathon sitting arrangement to make sure that they fulfil their 63 days sitting requirement. And when Mr Gero had raised those concerns, the prime minister had come down hard on him, saying that its really up to parliament to determine when it sits."