PNG gets messier and messier

Last December the PNG Supreme Court ruled that Michael Somare had not lawfully been removed as prime minister and therefore that the election of his successor was invalid. The PNG constitution goes into some detail on how to remove a prime minister and the method used, a parliamentary decision without any notice, did not meet the requirements for a vote of no confidence. The ABC has developed a nice turn of phrase by referring to Somare’s putative successor as the ‘effective prime minister’.

We now have fresh developments. The Supreme Court re-affirmed its December ruling 3 days ago. Today the deputy speaker ruled that the effective prime minister is out of office. In the meantime the deputy prime minster has arrested the chief justice and deputy chief justice and charged them with sedition. A ruling by the presiding officer is not one of the ways that a prime minister can be removed from office, although the deputy speaker may be relying on the new court ruling.

The foreign ministers of Australia and New Zealand are having a mild case of hysterics. There is some talk that the effective deputy prime minister will now charge the deputy speaker with sedition as well.


According to the Sydney Morning Herald:

Shortly after the declaration, [effective deputy prime minister] Mr Namah called a caucus meeting in the Parliament’s stateroom and was overheard saying he would seek legal advice.

I would imagine those words are becoming somewhat worrisome to the objects of that advice.

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