From SUSUVE LAUMAEA in Honolulu, Hawaii
Honolulu, Fri, Nov 11: Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has given assurance that Papua New Guinea will not be reduced to a nation under constitutional crisis.
Mr O’Neill has appealed to citizens and residents to remain calm and impartial in the current situation between the executive government and the judiciary.
“There is no reason for citizens and residents to fear collapse of the rule of law or to speculate about the onset of a constitutional crisis.
“Nothing like that will or shall happen under my watch,” Prime Minister O’Neill said in statement released from Honolulu, Hawaii today, where he is attending the 2011 Asia Pacific Economic Summit for Asia-Pacific leaders hosted by the United States Government.
Mr O’Neill’s appeal follow Cabinet’s decision on Thursday to suspend Chief Justice Sir Salamo Injia on the basis of a police report alleging improper conduct against him.
“What the nation has been watching and experiencing since August 2 is a healthy democratic display of the legislature, the executive and the judiciary proactively exercising their respective constitutional and independent roles as the three arms of government.
“That being so, the gravest development we must all expose, oppose and depose is the intrusion by all three arms of government into the affairs of each other.
“One arm of government must not unilaterally usurp the powers and authority of the other and vice versa.
“The executive government’s collective right to make national interest decisions – including decisions relating to members of the judiciary collectively or individually in the interest of transparency and good governance - through the National Executive Council should not be usurped by the threat of warrants of arrest for members of the NEC.
“This threat, as has occurred in the judiciary’s issuance of warrants of arrest on Friday for the Attorney-General and Justice Minister Allan Marat and Acting Prime Minister Belden Namah, is a very dangerous precedent,” the Prime Minister said.
“This must never be allowed to happen or escalate into open confrontation between the judiciary and the executive government in our country.
“Let us allow the rule of law to take its natural course without undue influence and threats.
“No one should link Sir Salamo’s suspension with the Supreme Court proceedings into the legality and constitutionality of my election as Prime Minister and that of our government on August 2. “Both are separate matters altogether.
“I appeal to all parties for maturity and commonsense to prevail and to allow the due judicial and legal processes to take their normal course in the allegations against Sir Salamo and the proceedings against our government’s legitimacy and constitutionality.
“The nation has an executive government in office and I assure all citizens and residents that we will continue to exercise good governance, discharge our parliament-mandated role to make and execute sound national interest decisions and govern the nation assertively, accountably and inclusively.
“The stability of our nation and the welfare of our people outweigh the personal interests of individuals.
“No individual is above the law and that applies to all citizens irrespective of status, professional or social standing.
“The allegations for which the National Executive Council has seen fit to suspend the Chief Justice are unrelated to his role as chair of the Supreme Court proceedings into the events of August 2,” Prime Minister O’Neill said.
“The allegations against Sir Salamo are unfortunate occurrence. They were brought to the attention of the former government by agencies of State including the police but were not acted upon.
“Our government has now attended to that pending matter.
“These turn of events relating to the Chief Justice does not prevent him from handing down judgments on cases that he has presided over – including the judgment on proceedings related to the events of August 2 - prior to his suspension by the NEC on Thursday,” Prime Minister O’Neill said.