THE controversial lawyer Paul Paraka has decided that his dealings with politicians should turn a new page as he makes his run for parliament in June-July’s national elections in Papua New Guinea.
Mr Paraka has established his own party, the awkwardly named Grassroots United Front, or GRUF.
He says that when writs for the election are issued on 20 April, GRUF will showcase its 111 candidates, the most fielded by a single political party in a PNG election.
As Sean Dorney wrote in The Interpreter a year ago:
“It is now two-and-a-half years since a case of alleged corruption began against the head of one of Papua New Guinea's biggest legal firms, Paul Paraka of Paul Paraka Lawyers.
“In 2013, Paul Paraka was arrested and charged with 18 counts of receiving about AUS$30 million in allegedly fraudulent payments from the PNG Finance Department for legal work his firm claimed it had performed for the PNG Government.
“The following year he was hit with another 32 charges of conspiracy to defraud, money laundering and misappropriation.
“Paraka contests the charges and is still out on bail. In fact, he is now claiming even many more millions from the PNG Government in interest charges for money he says his firm is still owed. Lawrence Stephens, chairman of Transparency International PNG, says the bills for legal work arose out of what was touted to be fee-free.”
GRUF will open its headquarters and launch its campaign in a three-day spectacular later this week that will feature singsings, inspirational addresses from the leader and fundraising dinners at The Stanley hotel and Sir John Guise Stadium.
"During the convention, the party's 100 policies will be unveiled," Mr Paraka told Loop PNG
"For the first time in the history of PNG, a well thought out set of unique party policies and guidelines for future development and progress of this country will be spelt out meticulously and intelligently.
"The policies are uniquely-tailored and designed to raise the living standards of all Papua New Guinean grassroots."
The party will hold regional launches in Lae, Mt Hagen and at Baiyer River, Mr Paraka's home village.