9 Sep 2011

TI alarmed at PNG constitution use

1:35 pm on 9 September 2011

Transparency International in Papua New Guinea says the surprise ousting of Sir Michael Somare from parliament this week shows an increasing abuse of the constitution by politicians.

Speaker Jeffrey Nape claimed constitutional provisions allowed him to disqualify Sir Michael from Parliament because he'd missed three consecutive sessions while having extended medical leave in Singapore.

Sir Michael's family disputes this and calls the speaker's actions deplorable.

Mr Nape has indicated there are wide gaps in the constitution that allowed his move, but Transparency's spokesperson, Lawrence Stephens, believes the document hasn't been properly followed and he says politicians risk destroying it.

"I believe that there are many things in the constitution that need interpretation by the National Court - that's one of the reasons we have a National Court. As for driving trucks through it, no. Driving trucks across it, over it, destroying it, perhaps yes, and perhaps that's what we have been watching."