31 Aug 2011

East Sepik MPs say PNG parliament recall a ploy to remove Sir Michael Somare

12:38 pm on 31 August 2011

Opposition MPs in Papua New Guinea say the Peter O'Neill government's recall of parliament next week is a ploy to disqualify Sir Michael Somare from the East Sepik seat he's held for more than four decades.

Parliament is being recalled on September the 6th instead of September the 20th, ostensibly to pass key legislation such as the constitutional amendments setting up two new provinces.

Don Wiseman has more:

"Sir Michael is in Singapore recovering from heart surgery and hasn't attended parliament since the beginning of April. The East Sepik governor, Peter Wararu Waranaka, says Mr O'Neill is calling the meeting early to force Sir Michael into a third consecutive absence, which would disqualify him from being an MP. Mr Wararu and the other East Sepik MPs including Sir Michael's son, Arthur, have called on the Ombudsman Commission to use its powers to stop the planned meeting. They say the Ombudsman has the power to declare the earlier recall unconstitutional in that no exceptional circumstances exist. East Sepik Province had earlier filed a Supreme Court reference challenging the legitimacy of the O'Neill government and this is thought to have prompted last week's move by the national administration to restrict the province's financial powers."