OPPOSITION leader Sir Mekere Morauta has called on Public Enterprises Minister Arthur Somare to step aside to answer the alleged leadership charges laid against him by the Ombudsman Commission, The National reports.
Sir Mekere told a press conference yesterday Somare must step down in the interest of good governance and law.
He said Somare could not be allowed to remain a state minister making very important decisions that were affecting the lives of people.
“As a senior minister and an important member of the ‘kitchen cabinet’, the minister is duty-bound to respect and uphold the Constitution and principles of law by stepping aside to answer leadership charges against him,” Sir Mekere said.
He said he was making the call in light of the decision of the acting public prosecutor, Jim Wala Tamate, to request Chief Justice Sir Salamo Injia to appoint a new chairman for the leadership tribunal to investigate allegations of misconduct against Somare.
The public prosecutor sent the letter to the chief justice on June 21. Somare was referred by the Ombudsman Commission in 2006, and a tribunal was appointed headed by Justice Sir Kubulan Los.
But Somare took an injunction against the referral. Since then, Sir Kubulan has retired, and
Somare’s judicial review is before the
Applying the law as set out by the Supreme Court in its ruling against suspended Treasurer Patrick Pruaitch, legal sources say they expect Somare to be suspended automatically when the chief justice appoints the tribunal head.
“The Supreme Court ruling is binding and, if you apply that consistently, that should be the outcome,” the legal source said.
In his press conference, Sir Mekere also made reference to the Pruaitch Supreme Court ruling on sections 27, 28 and 29 of the Organic Law on the duties and responsibilities of leadership.
The ruling, he said, stipulated that suspension was obligatory once a leader was referred for misconduct or breach of the leadership code.