Thursday, December 02, 2010

Governor General election ruling set for next Friday



THE Supreme Court will hand down its decision next Friday on whether there were constitutional breaches in the election of the governor-general by parliament this year, The National reports.

It heard arguments on Monday and Tuesday from the sponsor of the motion, Morobe provincial government, through its lawyer Alfred Manase and government lawyers.

The issue was whether there were constitutional breaches regarding the re-election of Sir Paulias Matane as the governor-general and, whether, parliament Speaker Jeffrey Nape had breached the constitution when he declared Sir Paulias as duly-elected to serve a second term in June.

Manase said in his argument that the matter was a serious constitutional breach and the Supreme Court should use its inherent powers to declare the re-election of the governor-general void avinitcio and, so, null and void.

He said section 87(5) only gave parliament the power to give the incumbent, Sir Paulias, the authority to re-contest if he had mustered the required 73-vote majority.

Following that, he, along with other candidates, were required to go through a secret ballot. However, that did not happen and Sir Paulias was declared governor-general.

Morobe was also arguing that, by law, the speaker automatically assumed the position of acting governor-general as soon as the incumbent’s term was up, but, that did not happen on May 26 when Sir Paulias’s term of office expired.

Only under circumstances that render the speaker unfit or unable to take up the post, then the chief justice was next in line and, if he cannot, then the attorney-general, the court was told.

Instead, they said, Nape continued as speaker and the following month, on June 25, presided over the election process which, according to Morobe, was unconstitutional.

The five-judge Supreme Court bench reserved its determination to next Friday due to the nature and seriousness of the matter.


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