18 Mar 2004

PNG prime minister rules out parliament recall before June

4:40 pm on 18 March 2004

Papua New Guinea's prime minister, Sir Michael Somare, has rejected a request from the Ombudsman Commission to recall parliament this month.

On Friday, the Commission gave the prime minister until Monday to recall parliament to comply with constitutional requirements.

The Chief Ombudsman had advised Sir Michael in a letter that if the request was refused the Commission would have no option but to institute court proceedings.

The government adjourned parliament on January 21st and Sir Michael says it will remain adjourned until its planned resumption on June 29th.

The Chief Ombudsman says the long adjournment is unconstitutional and raises the question of whether, by sitting for only six days in the first six months of the year, parliament would be able to discharge its constitutional requirement to sit for sixty days in each year.

The prime minister said parliament is responsible to the people, not the Ombudsman Commission and he reminded the Commission it took no action when the previous prime minister adjourned the house for seven months.