3 Aug 2011

Fear of constitutional crisis in PNG if ousted acting leader re-appointed

4:09 pm on 3 August 2011

A constitutional lawyer says if Papua New Guinea's ousted acting prime minister is re-appointed, it could spark a constitutional crisis.

Yesterday, the opposition joined with government MPs to have the prime minister's office declared vacant, and replaced Sam Abal with the former treasurer, Peter O'Neill.

Mr Abal vowed to fight the matter in court.

A lawyer, Peter Donigi, says the ousting was unconstitutional, because the position of prime minister wasn't vacant in the first place.

But he says, in practical terms, the oppostion, led by Belden Namah, won 70 votes to Mr Abal's 24.

"So that's a substantial majority there, and if Mr Abal is successful in his court [case] and is re-instated, the question is how can he manage the purse of the nation, in view of the fact that he does not muster the numbers, and the opposition, led by Mr Namah, would make it very difficult for him to perform. And therefore we will have a constitutional crisis."

Constitutional lawyer, Peter Donigi.