24 Feb 2007

PNG Ombudsman urges politicians to end unauthorised absences from parliament

9:41 am on 24 February 2007

Papua New Guinea's Ombudsman Commission has warned politicians that their continued absence from Parliament could lead to breaches of the Leadership Code.

Commenting on this week's adjournment of Parliament after the Somare government failed to muster the numbers to extend a state of emergency in the Southern Highlands Province, chief ombudsman Ila Geno said the commission was concerned that MPs were absent when there were issues of national interest before the House.

He said these included the state of emergency in the Southern Highlands Province whose resources such as oil and gas generate revenue for the country's economy.

Under the PNG constitution, an MP's seat could be declared vacant if the politician is absent without leave of Parliament for three consecutive sittings.

Ombudsman John Nero highlighted this constitutional provision and warned that the state-funded corruption watchdog could be forced to take action against absent MPs, in order to compel them to perform their constitutional duties.

Mr Geno, Mr Nero and ombudsman Peter Masi appealed to PNG leaders to put the interest of their voters first.