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Somare vows to continue fight against PNG ‘trampling over laws’

O'Neill and Somare

Papua New Guinea stand-off: Prime Minister Peter O'Neill (left) - defiantly snubbing a court order; and "reinstated" Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare ... fighting for the rule of law. Photo: ABC

Pacific Scoop:
Report – By Malum Nalu in Port Moresby

Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare, who maintains he is the legitimate prime minister of Papua New Guinea, says he will continue to uphold the Constitution, The National reports.

Sir Michael, whose claim to lead the government is backed by a Supreme Court ruling delivered last December, said in a statement at the weekend: “If this is to be my last and biggest battle, I will fight for the Constitution, the underlying law that holds the very fabric of our democracy and democratic institutions together.

“Yes, I could call it quits and allow elected leaders that continuously sidestep our laws to take us to the brink of our democracy.

“But I am still the representative of my people and will continue to stand for what I believe is in their best interest.

“Parliament does not have absolute power and yet we are allowing this dangerous trend of violations and breaches to be legitimised by the one argument of majority rule,” Sir Michael, who was ousted last August after Peter O’Neill and his deputy, Belden Namah, garnered superior numbers in Parliament, said.

“All past prime ministers respected the orders of the courts; from Sir Julius Chan, Paias Wingti, Sir Rabbie Namaliu, the late Sir William Skate and even Sir Mekere Morauta.”

He said O’Neill, with the support of the Speaker of Parliament (Jeffrey Nape), was the only illegitimate self-proclaimed prime minister who considered himself above the law and would not comply with court orders.

‘Condoning illegitimacy’
“This impasse is not about Michael Somare or Peter O’Neill. If we continue to trample on our laws to stay in power we are condoning illegitimacy. What law will we turn to in order to argue our rights?” he said.

“I do not want a country that is under the barrel of arms. I do not want a country where our security forces will compromise on the laws of this land for personalities.

“I stress that this impasse is about the law. Therefore, to suggest that I encouraged a coup is shameful in its simplicity.

“I want to set the record straight by saying, my government appointed Fred Yakasa and the matter is before the court. We also appointed Gabriel Yer as treasury secretary and the matter is also before the court.

“In the same way, we last week dismissed Commander Francis Agwi and replaced him with Colonel Yaura Sasa.

“If O’Neill is aggrieved he must take the matter to the same courts. He must not manipulate agents of the law in the manner that we have seen since he inappropriately took office on 2 August 2011.

National appeal
“I appeal to the people of Papua New Guinea to look at the law and not at personalities. This issue is bigger than me and O’Neill.”

Lae-based Sasa, who is 60, led a short-lived mutiny involving about 30 other soldiers last Thursday when he placed Agwi under house arrest at the defence headquarters at Murray barracks.

However, the mutiny folded after 12 hours for lack of support from senior officers around the country.

Source: Malum Nalu’s PNG blog
PNG mutiny over but leadership struggle goes on