THE NEW Papua New Guinea government today failed in a bid to quash a Supreme Court challenge to its constitutional legitimacy.
Lawyers for Attorney-General Allan Marat tried to have the matter dismissed, arguing that the East Sepik Provincial Government, which challenged the surprise decision to elect Peter O'Neill prime minister on 2 August, did not have the power to bring the matter before the court.
With only 12 of the provincial government’s 15 executive council members present on 4 August to vote in favour of the court action, government lawyers argued they did not have a quorum and were in breach of the law.
In dismissing the application, Chief Justice Sir Salamo Injia said the court was satisfied a majority of the executive council had voted in favour of bringing the action.
The provincial government, former prime minister Sir Michael Somare and former acting prime minister Sam Abal are challenging the constitutional and parliamentary process used to elect Mr O'Neill.
Mr Abal's lawyer, former Australian parliamentary secretary for Pacific Island Affairs, Duncan Kerr, criticised the attempt to challenge the executive council's decision, which came after three months of legal wrangling in the court.
"It has been put back, allowing all these proceedings to happen, and has been brought out as a lethal bullet," he said.
The case has been adjourned until tomorrow.
Source: Nine MSN, 25 October