26 Oct 2011

PNG government fails quashing Somare challenge

11:47 am on 26 October 2011

Papua New Guinea's government has failed in a bid to quash a Supreme Court challenge to its constitutional legitimacy.

Lawyers for Attorney-General Allan Marat have tried to have the matter dismissed, arguing the East Sepik Provincial Government, which initially challenged the surprise decision to elect Peter O'Neill prime minister on August the 2nd, did not have the power to bring the matter before the court.

With only 12 of the provincial government's 15 executive council members present to vote in favour of the court action, government lawyers argued they did not have a quorum.

In dismissing the application, the Chief Justice Sir Salamo Injia said the court was satisfied a majority of the executive council had voted in favour of bringing the court action.

The provincial government, the former prime minister Sir Michael Somare and his choice for acting PM, Sam Abal, are challenging the constitutional and parliamentary process used to elect Mr O'Neill while Sir Michael was in Singapore recovering from heart surgery.

The case is continuing.