3 Apr 2012

PNG government fails to have leader case reheard

7:45 am on 3 April 2012

The Peter O'Neill led government of Papua New Guinea has failed in a bid to have last year's constitutional case about who is the country's legitimate leader reheard, after a judge said allowing it would sanction "legislation by surprise and ambush".

However, the court has yet to decide on whether the nation's chief justice, Sir Salamo Injia, and justice Nicholas Kerriwom should step aside amid allegations of bias against the government.

Government lawyers argued yesterday to have the 2011 case reheard when parliament passed laws disqualifying former prime minister Sir Michael Somare from parliament.

The laws passed three days before the court handed down its December 12 judgment that Sir Michael was unconstitutionally deposed from office and was still PNG's legitimate prime minister.

The same five-man bench who ruled against the O'Neill government in 2011 also opposed the latest move.

Lawyers for Mr O'Neill applied to have Justice Nicholas Kerriwom removed from hearing the current case due to a perceived bias.

The court will deliver its judgment this morning after which government lawyers are expected to attempt to have Sir Salamo step down.