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Somare loses bid to keep parliament seat

Sir Michael Somare has lost his bid to keep his seat in Papua New Guinea’s parliament, after a National Court judge ruled against his application for an injunction against his dismissal.


Judge Allen David ruled on Tuesday ruled he was unwilling to interfere in the processes of parliament and that the matter was likely to form part of an ongoing Supreme Court case.

“I am not minded to interfere with the processes of parliament,” Judge David told the court.

“The Supreme Court is the best court to decide these issues.”

Sir Michael had been seeking an injunction against his dumping from his East Sepik seat earlier this month by Speaker Jeffery Nape, who said the former prime minister had missed three consecutive sittings of parliament – grounds for dismissal under PNG law.

Outside the court on Tuesday Sir Michael’s lawyer, Kerenga Kua, said his client would appeal against Judge David’s ruling.

“We will be filing an application tomorrow for the Grand Chief to intervene in the Supreme Court reference, where hopefully all these questions can be washed up together,” he said.

The executive of the National Alliance (NA) – the party which Sir Michael headed – has brought a separate Supreme court case against the constitutionality of the dismissal of the Somare government on August 2, when parliament voted 70 to 24 to form a new government under Peter O’Neill.

Sir Michael will join the NA executive and Sam Abal, who was acting prime minister in the Somare government, in their action against the O’Neill government, his lawyer said.

Mr Kua said the fight for Sir Michael to retain his parliamentary seat was not over, but that case would not proceed until after the Supreme Court case into the legitimacy of the O’Neill government.

The Supreme Court case resumes on September 26 and is expected to be decided by the end of the month.

Meanwhile, The National newspaper on Tuesday reported Sir Michael was expected to return to PNG on Friday, after flying to Singapore for a medical check-up last week.

He had only just returned to PNG a fortnight earlier following a five-month absence, when he underwent three heart operations in Singapore.

In that time – when he was still prime minister – he made only one public statement in April to declare he was not ill.

He has since apologised for the lack of communication, saying in a weekend radio address to the people of East Sepik that the operations had left him too weak to talk.