24 May 2004

Nauru opposition repeats call for president to step down

1:58 pm on 24 May 2004

Nauru's president, Rene Harris, is again facing calls to step down over the deadlock in parliament and the threat of bankruptcy.

Opposition MP, Dr Kieren Keke, says three MPs have gone to Melbourne to ask Mr Harris to return to the country and allow a new government to be formed.

There's been an impasse in parliament with 9 MPs on either side of the 18 member house for some time.

But, the president remains in Australia in an attempt to negotiate debt restructuring on the country's assets which are in the hands of a receiver.

Dr Keke says Mr Harris must face the situation head on.

"He has been refusing to come back to the country. He's using the excuse that he needs to address the debt to GE. However, half of cabinet are in Australia on that task and they're not getting anywhere. And, they haven't been getting anywhere since late last year. So, we feel that it's about time to allow a new government to form that can have a fresh attack on it."

An opposition MP, David Adeang was elected as speaker unopposed last week with 13 MPs present and he then presided over the passing of legislation without a quorum.

Dr Keke says there's legal precedent for this but he understands government MPs will challenge the situation.