Opposition Leader Rt Hon Sir Mekere Morauta said today the Prime Minister, the Speaker of the National Parliament and the Leader of Government Business have yet again breached the Constitution by failing to ensure that Parliament sits the required 63 days in the Parliamentary year.
“I will immediately seek legal advice about the options open to the Opposition for fighting the adjournment in the courts,” he said.
“The adjournment motion moved by Mr Tiensten and accepted by Mr Nape, is not only a most serious and deliberate breach of the Constitution.
“It goes against all the principles of democracy.
“Today’s decision was designed purely to avoid a motion of no confidence.
“It was an act of a desperate Government that will do anything to stay in power. It was an act of a Government frightened of facing the consequences of its own actions.
“Not only was the decision in breach of the Constitution, it was in breach of Standing Orders.
“The Speaker accepted the adjournment vote on the voices. The Opposition called for a division, a request that the Speaker is obliged to agree to. He refused.
“Adjourning the Parliament denies the right of the people to be represented by their elected Member of Parliament.
“It is a further step along the National Alliance’s road to chaos and disorder.
“It is a further step towards stamping out legitimate dissent.
“People are being denied their right to free speech, to protest, and now, once again, Members of Parliament are being muzzled.
“It is time the dictators of the Kitchen Cabinet were called to account for their actions.”
Sir Mekere said that by adjourning the Parliament today to 16 November, Michael Somare, Jeffrey Nape and Paul Tiensten had breached their Constitutional duty and had committed an offence under the Leadership Code.
Section 124(1) of the Constitution prescribes that “the Parliament shall … meet … for not less than nine weeks in each period (of twelve months)”.
In 1999 the Supreme Court ruled that the meaning of “nine weeks” in this context was 63 days and that the ‘parliamentary year’ commenced on the day after the return of writs following a general election.
The relevant dates for the current term of Parliament are 07 August 2009 and 06 August 2010.
In the period 07 August 2009 to date, the Parliament has sat for only 35 days, 28 days short of the required 63 days.
“The decision to adjourn displays a total disregard for Parliament as an institution and a total disregard for the constitutional requirement for Parliament to sit,” Sir Mekere said.
“The actions of 21 July 2010 are a deliberate and flagrant breach of the Constitution and of the Standing Orders.
“The Speaker violated the Constitution by accepting the Motion for adjournment. The Leader of Government Business violated the Constitution by moving the Motion. The Prime Minister, as head of the executive government and responsible for the Government’s actions, violated the Constitution.”
The Speaker, the Prime Minister and the Leader of Government Business have sworn an Oath of Office to protect and uphold the Constitution and the laws of the country.
These three leaders have yet again consciously and knowingly breached the Constitution, and their Oath of Office, Sir Mekere said.
“I also hope that the Ombudsman Commission will finally take action and refer the three leaders to the Public Prosecutor for breach of the Organic Law on the Duties and Responsibilities of Leadership,” he said.
Sir Mekere said the adjournment was clearly designed to prevent debate and voting on a number of important bills and motions, as well as the proposed Motion of No Confidence in the Prime Minister.
Sir Mekere said the Kitchen Cabinet was deliberately destroying the right to free speech in
“Today we have seen Members of Parliament illegally being prevented from debating matters of the highest national importance,” he said.
“Recently we have seen legitimate criticism of the proposed amendments to the Ombudsman Commission and the new Environment legislation being silenced.
“Why do the Prime Minister and his Kitchen Cabinet fear free speech so much?
“Why do they trample on our right to criticise bad laws, to criticise corruption, to criticise the Government’s failure to deliver services to the people?
“This is a very dangerous road the Kitchen Cabinet is taking us.
“The fundamental basis of our Constitution is the preservation of parliamentary democracy.
“The Kitchen Cabinet is destroying democracy in our country.”