Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Ban on Chief Justice lifted


THE national government has backed down on its decision to suspend Chief Justice Sir Salamo Injia, The National reports.
The National Executive Council held an urgent meeting yesterday afternoon where cabinet agreed to rescind its decision last Thursday to suspend the chief justice.
It culminated a day of drama which saw the arrest and charging by police of acting Prime Minister Belden Namah and Attorney-General Dr Allan Marat.
The government also sought to set aside last Friday’s contempt of court order by the Supreme Court but that matter was postponed to today in order for Namah and Marat to be present.
Namah said in a media conference, surrounded by his full team of cabinet ministers including Sir Mekere Morauta, Don Polye, William Duma and Bart Philemon, that cabinet had decided to rescind the decision based on national interest and national security.
“I want to inform the people of this country of the urgent National Executive Council meeting this afternoon considering the events unfolding since the cabinet decision on Nov 10 based on allegations against the chief justice on misconduct in office,” Namah said.
He said last Friday, a lone Supreme Court judge had issued orders for the arrest and detention of himself and Marat.
“This (yesterday) morning at 10 o’clock, we voluntarily fronted up at the police headquarters where we were formally arrested and detained while our lawyers made bail application and we were released on our own recognizance.
“Our actions demonstrate that leaders have respect for the laws and we humble ourselves to demonstrate to our people and the world that nobody is above the law, including the prime minister, deputy prime minister and ministers.
“I want to inform the nation that our lawyers appeared at the Supreme Court (yesterday) to set aside the Supreme Court orders.”
Namah said the Supreme Court constituted a five-man bench including Sir Salamo and Justice Bernard Sakora, the judge who issued the arrest orders.
“It is really unfortunate. We would have thought that the chief justice and Sakora would have stepped aside due to a conflict of interest situation,” he said.
“These, as I see, are the judges causing the direct confrontation between the judiciary and the executive government.
“If we go through this confrontation, it will lead to a constitutional crisis and, because we are a government for the people, the National Executive Council has now rescinded its decision of Nov 10 and the NEC decision to reaffirm its stand on Nov 12,” Namah said.
“We made the decision to rescind NEC’s earlier decision based on national interest and national security.”
Namah said he would be in court with Marat this morning.

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