Papua New Guinea back in 2011/2012
Papua New Guinea back in 2011/2012, there was a crucial event in the record of Papua New Guinea’s political history. This was the first of its kind to happened in the country. Most noteworthy, it was the time that the nine years of ruling by the National Alliance Party-led government by Prime Minister Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare. Papua New Guinea has been on hold by political disorder where two members of the Parliament, Sir Michael Somare and Sir Peter O’Neill claiming to be the rightful Prime Minister of the country. The both members at that time have set up their own cabinets and the two leaders answer to a different and separated governor-general and police commissioner.
Papua New Guinea (PNG) is a constitutional democracy, with only one exception. Based on our political history from Independence up till then, the country didn’t face such situation. The changes implemented by the government occurs after every five-years in terms of election in the country. Important policy and principles distinct within the country’s political voices is the thing that drives forces of change in the nation to be disposed to rivalries between leaders and parties of the parliament.
Those outcomes have led to the biggest constitutional and leadership crisis in the history of the country. The thirty-seven-year-old constitution was put to test during the crisis, summoned the principle of the separation of powers among the three arms of government (executive, legislative, and judicial). That shook the foundations of the Westminster system of government adopted by Papua New Guinea. Additionally, business houses and landowners around the Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) project area warned that if the impasse between the two groups claiming to be the legitimate government continued, it could negatively impact investor confidence and the economy at a time when the LNG project was at its peak construction phase (Post-Courier, 19 Dec 2011).
The political dispute over the seat of the Prime Minister in August 2011, when the National Parliament firmly determined that the office was available. The decision making was made while Sir Michael Somare was still going through medical treatment in Singapore, believing he was on a leave from the parliament, he was at a hospital down in Singapore. He stayed there for some months. There have been many implications on Papua New Guinea government system during that time. The government body was in a state of confusion and disorder. New laws have been implemented, due to the sick leave that Sir Michael Somare took and was out of the country, he’s son and Member for Angoram Arthur Somare stated Somare’s retirement from politics, without the knowledge that his father was in a hospital in Singapore. The opposition government made their moves, seize control of the parliament and elected Sir Peter O’Neill.
Sir Michael took the matter to court (Supreme Court), favoured by majority of three to two judges and the court ruled out that he was still the Prime Minister. The O’Neill government then introduced a legislation which effectively seeking to cancel Somare’s leave previously granted to him and removing him from holding his seat (East Sepik Electorate) at that time. The law implemented says that a person cannot be prime minister by the age of 72 or older than that. That law ruled out Somare, because he was at the age of 75 and he was not eligible for the prime minister seat. Those laws were newly established because leaders at that time are trying all possible ways to get the prime minister office. The both rivals have declared their lawful statement that who was right.
Sir Michael Somare and his adherents disagreed that the decision was already made by the Supreme Court and he was still the rightful person for the prime minister office. O’Neill and his adherents too argued that the Supreme Court as one-sided its decision making that have been overtaken by the law to provide Sir Michael to ineligible to hold either his parliamentary seat or the Prime Ministership. Boycotting of the parliamentary proceedings were generally done by Somare’s adherents following the Supreme Court decision.
The parliament was on O’Neill side and Supreme Court was supporting Somare, the country’s chief secretary and the other heads of government departments moved to O’Neill side. The O’Neill government used their power to implement new laws, in effect that gives parliament the power to suspend judges for misconduct in office. The argument was led by leading lawyers on the new law that it was unconstitutional. Non-governmental organizations have attacked the new law, and many of the students around Papua New Guinea have put into action against it in the capital city of Papua New Guinea, Port Moresby.
The standoff revealed the extent to which Papua New Guinea’s parliament remains explicated by the contesting for power between individual politicians. The political parties are weak and be at odds with little in their policies. The government instead went on and formed a loose partnership of individual politicians making things in their own way of interests and that of their supporters. The key issue is the spending that is control by the government, that was when O’Neill took power of the government and has proposed the country’s biggest- ever budget, while giving his word to introduce free education and the rise of minimum wage on jobs. Many people regrouped outside the parliament in favor of O’Neill, because of the policies that have strengthen the new government. The standoff seemed effective, so the Governor General Michael Ogio overset the course and backed O’Neill, that ended Sir Michael’s hopes, although if he wants to take it further for legal actions. The challenges may still be likely, in favor of O’Neill