Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Statement by Sir Michael Somare on the Supreme Court decision

The 21st of May 2012 will be remembered in our history as a triumphant day for our time-tested Constitution and the Rule of Law.
Sir Michael Somare
The Supreme Court ruling ensured that the democratic foundations on which our nation was built remains intact.
The architects of our Constitution had the foresight to include specific sections that virtually took into account every eventuality including the dark occurrences since the August 2 political coup. Its resilience and relevance has withstood its greatest test since independence.
It is widely accepted that recent assaults on our Constitution were engineered by a minority group who purported to represent the overall interest of our people.
Never before in our history has our young vibrant democracy endured such serious assaults on our Constitution and on our Judiciary these assaults:
  • Brought our nation to the brink of political tyranny and dictatorship; 
  • Tested our resolve for national unity;
  • Left our people deeply troubled as to the future of our system of government, as guaranteed by the Constitution;
  • Left our people fearful of their wellbeing and future hopes and aspirations. The last nine months of court references and court challenges have compelled Papua New Guineans to build their resolve and willpower to protect and fight for the legality and supremacy of our Constitution, the highest law of the land.
It is the Constitution that guarantees the fundamental rights of every citizen.
Today we are reassured that one of the three arms of Government, the judiciary, still maintains its independence in spite of intimidation exerted by Parliament and the National Executive Council since the 2nd of August last year.
The Judiciary is able to exercise its powers and perform its functions under the Constitution; to answer key constitutional questions as to the issue of the legitimate Government.
Today the judiciary has upheld the supremacy and integrity of the Constitution and the rule of law.
The Supreme Court has ruled, not for the first time, but the second time, in favour of my Government.
The Supreme Court has once and for all determined the question of Government legitimacy and has ruled to restore the Constitutionally-formed Government: the Somare Government.
I call on every law-enforcing agency, in particular, the police to uphold the Constitution and to enforce the rule of law and to honour the Supreme Court ruling handed down today. You are duty-bound to do so.
I also call on the public service to respect the ruling and work together to support it.
I said it before and I say it again. The O’Neill/Namah regime hijacked parliament and took the country on a dangerous and risky ride the full implications of which may not be clear for some considerable period.
They introduced a number of retrospective and vindictive pieces of legislation in an attempt to camouflage their illegitimacy.
In the process personal accusations were being made against me and a small group of members of parliament that resisted the forces of tyranny.
I believe upholding the rule of law and protecting the Constitution is one of my last and most important challenges as a member of parliament. I hope that such an assault is never repeated again in our proud and diverse nation.
Throughout these past months, my team has worked quietly and diligently behind the scenes.
I sincerely thank Governor Peter Wararu, the East Sepik people and Provincial Government for driving the agenda from the beginning.
I thank our legal team and organisations for putting considerable efforts and resources into the task of protecting national interests. I also extend my appreciation to the Morobe Provincial Government led by Governor Luther Wenge who recognized the importance of the battle and joined in to counter attacks on the integrity of our parliament, judiciary and Constitution.
Our fight in the courts has been for the common good: for the supremacy of the Constitution, for the rule of law; for separation of powers and the independence of the three arms of government..
I am pleased that parliament has now risen, having recognised that no one has the power to defer the Elections: not Parliament; not even the Electoral Commissioner and certainly not the Speaker of parliament.
All power and authority flow from the supremacy of the PNG Constitution.
Papua New Guinea must never again be held at ransom by a minority group of Papua New Guineans, who purport to represent the overall interest of the people.
Seven million Papua New Guineans have the Constitutional right to freely elect their parliamentary representative in a timely manner.
The major lesson from recent events is that we ignore the major tenets of our Constitution at our own peril, whether it relates to the independence of the Judiciary or the conduct of the National elections.
In their wisdom our founding fathers had made sure that national elections were held on a regular basis and this has indeed served the nation well in all the years since independence.
I also commend the Electoral Commissioner, Mr Andrew Trawen and his team for completing the electoral roll in time and for standing up against members of parliament to ensure that the elections take place and a new government is in office by the end of July this year.
I appeal to every Papua New Guinean to vote wisely in the coming election. Your vote is important as you determine whether a person is truly worthy and capable of representing your interest in parliament over the next five years.
My fight over the last nine months has been for the collective national interest, not just my personal interest.
At the same time it would have been wrong for me to just sit back and accept my removal from parliament after my people in the East Sepik Regional seat have elected me continuously to this position for the previous 43 years.
My fight has been over the highly important task of protecting our National Constitution, in which I had a leading role as the person who took this country into independence in 1975. These rights are enshrined in the Constitution.
As caretaker Prime Minister and up until the return of writs, I will turn my focus to running the affairs of the country with my caretaker Government.
I will also in due course make a separate statement on the leadership of the National Alliance, the party which won the most number of parliamentary seats in the 2002 and 2007 national elections.
Between now and the return of writs, my Government will move quickly to:
  • Finalise the Caretaker Cabinet; 
  • Assist the electoral commission where necessary to ensure the holding of free and fair elections;
  • Restore normalcy and good order including stability within law enforcement agencies;
  • Reinstitute respect for the judiciary and enforce the rule of law;
  • Stabilise, reunite, and rebuild the confidence of the public service; and
  • Prepare to handover Government to the incoming Government after the General Election this July.
Finally, I wish to thank the people of Papua New Guinea for your prayers and support over many years in our common desire to move this nation forward and to try and create a better future for this and subsequent generations.
As a government that is now taking over in a ‘caretaker mode’ I wish to assure all citizens of this great nation that we would operate in this ‘mode’ until the election results of the 8th Parliament are completed.
Our foremost task in this period is to ensure that a free and fair election is conducted so that the new government that is formed will enjoy the full trust of the public and ensure that the tasks of nation building continues to progress, building on the achievements that my government has made in the past decade.


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