By JEFFREY ELAPA
THE National Executive Council has suspended the financial powers of the East Sepik provincial government, The National reports.
Government sources said the council met on Wednesday and decided that all financial powers of the provincial government be withdrawn and reverted to Waigani.
Although the reason for the suspension has not been disclosed, it comes at a time when the East Sepik provincial executive council is seeking a Supreme Court reference on the election of the Prime Minister Peter O'Neill early this month.
It means that all financial powers are managed from Waigani, leaving the provincial government powerless to make decisions and expend funds for any purpose.
There are also talks around the corridors of power in Waigani that the government plans to remove similar financial powers from another provincial government soon. This, however, cannot be confirmed at this stage.
Text messages to members of the NEC to verify the suspension went unanswered.
A press conference scheduled for yesterday by O'Neill to inform the nation about some of the NEC decisions was cancelled and re-scheduled for today.
Responding yesterday to the government's decision to suspend the financial powers of the East Sepik provincial government, Angoram MP Arthur Somare said it was an unlawful and immoral act by an illegitimate regime.
"I strongly condemn this action to subvert a lawful special reference to the Supreme Court," Somare said.
"I call on the Ombudsman Commission, other constitutional office-holders and the public to see this latest ploy for what it is – a bold attempt to subvert the Constitution.
"This is a desperate action by a desperate group of politicians who are hungry for power and who are willing to destroy the constitutional foundations of our democratic society.
"These are desperate people who are willing to break the nation's laws to feed their hunger for greed and power."
Somare said it had been widely speculated in the past two days that the government was convening a National Executive Council meeting with the suspension of the East Sepik provincial government high on its agenda.
"I'm sure the legal advice they received indicated that suspension of the provincial government was only possible through a declaration of a national emergency, which would be impossible to prove,'' Somare said.
"As a result, they have adopted another illegal tactic by suspending the ESPG financial powers effective from Aug 18, 2011. An instrument to this effect has been signed by Treasurer Don Polye.
"Only evil-minded people can stoop to these levels.
"They have acted in this manner because they know that their Supreme Court case is weak. Their questionable regime is now attempting to financially cripple a court action that will show up the illegitimacy of their actions in parliament on Aug 2."