12 Dec 2011

PNG police prepare for reaction to key Supreme Court ruling

3:35 pm on 12 December 2011

Papua New Guinea police have again increased their presence in Port Moresby ahead of today's expected Supreme Court ruling on the legitimacy of the government.

The five-man bench is considering whether Prime Minister Peter O'Neill was constitutionally elected by an August parliamentary vote to replace Sir Michael Somare, after the prime ministership was declared vacant.

This came after Sir Michael had been absent for four months receiving medical treatment in Singapore.

JB reports

"The ruling had been scheduled for Friday but was deferred until today after the prime minister's lawyer filed a late attempt to force the Chief Justice to step aside. It remains unclear whether a successful challenge against Mr O'Neill's election would mean the re-installation of the Somare administration. With so much riding on the decision, extra police have been deployed to key locations in the capital. Police say they expect some sort of public reaction over the decision, particularly amid simmering anti-Asian sentiment. Widely circulated text messages are calling for people to forcefully evict Chinese from the country if Sir Michael, who has strong links to China, returns to power."