Friday, August 05, 2011

Amet loses bid to fight O’Neill


AN application for a special Supreme Court reference, sought by Madang regional MP Sir Arnold Amet questioning the legality of the Peter O'Neill-led government, has been withdrawn, The National reports.
The withdrawal was made by Attorney-General Dr Allan Marat. 
Marat was sworn in on Wednesday as the caretaker minister for justice and attorney-general plus labour and industrial relations. 
His appointment, and that of other careta­ker ministers, was published in the National Gazette that same day. 
Sir Arnold filed the application on the evening of the same day, using his (previous) title as the attorney-general. 
Lawyer for Sir Arnold, Ian Molloy, took the courtroom by surprise when he said he was withdrawing the matter on instructions from the (new) attorney-general. 
Marat withdrew the proceeding, saying that he, as the attorney-general, did not "au­thorise, consent or ap­prove" of the Supreme Court application. 
It is understood that only the attorney-general has the power to invoke a special Supreme Court reference under section 19 of the Constitution. 
Molloy, on behalf of Sir Arnold, sought the Supreme Court's appro­val to have the matter adjourned in order to obtain further instruc­tions from his client and, perhaps, pursue the case from a different angle.
Marat's lawyer Manuel Varitimos said Sir Arnold no longer had the powers to pursue the matter be­cause he was no longer the attorney-general. 
He asked the court to have the matter with­drawn. 
Some National Al­liance MPs, faithful to the former government who attended the court session, were shocked because it meant their plans to pursue the matter in court had hit a brick wall. 
The Supreme Court accepted the withdrawal after perusing Marat's affidavit. 
Supreme Court judges Bernard Sakora, Panuel Mogish and Derek Hartshorn presided over the matter. 
It is understood that Wabag MP Sam Abal would have his submissions made in the National Court today to restrain Peter O'Neill from exercising his powers as the prime minister, pending the legal question over the post's vacancy.
Meanwhile, Ombudsman John Nero said yesterday that under section 19 of the Constitution, the Ombudsman Commission had the authority to bring about a Supreme Court reference on issues pertaining to certain questionable issues arising in government.
He said the current political situation had moved so fast that the commission had not looked at the issues tho­roughly. 
"What I am saying is that the commission has the standing under section 19 of the Constitution to bring about a Supreme Court reference but, until we have properly studied the issues in question, we cannot say or do anything just yet," Nero said.

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