Pruaitch has been criticized on social media for seeking Supreme Court interpretation of the legality of O’Neil’s withdrawal as nominee for the PM post after it was closed on the 30th of May, subsequently led to the election of James Marape as the Prime Minister. As this matter is before the court, we cannot say anything until SC deliver their opinion.
But when you look at it, there are so many issues that need clarification. Whether a vote of no confidence should follow the majority requirement after national elections, whether MPs switching between parties at will is helping PNG at all, whether the MPs who resigned from PNC and the coalition followed procedures set in the Organic Law on the Integrity of Political Parties and Candidates (OLIPPAC)? etc. These are recurring issues, and won’t go away anytime soon unless we deal with it. Read below.
1. Only 3 MPs followed the procedure for resignation when they resigned en-mass from PNC & PNC coalition.
Procedures for resignation from a party is set under the OLIPAC: Procedure is for the MP to render his resignation letter to the Registrar of Political Partie & Candidates (RPPC). Announcing that you’re resigning if not sufficient, and not even recognized by the RPPC. You need to have it in writing, signed and delivered. Only then can the RPPC change your status. And if you intend to join another party, there much be a letter of acceptance from the party you’re joining. More than 20 MPs changed parties between April and May 2019, but according to the Registrar, only 3 MPs followed this procedure before new government was formed (Ipatas and two others who followed him). Technically, the others were still MPs of the party they resigned from when the new PM & government was formed.
2. OLIPPAC section 63: This section requires that after the national elections, party with the largest numbers of winning candidates are invited to form the government by the GG. This provision has been followed without fail since 2002 when it was enacted. However, the same provision doesn’t apply for the election of the PM during a vote of no confidence or in the case where PM resigns/dies and there is a vacancy. This inconsistency doesn’t help. Michael Somare’s NA had the majority to form the government in 2007, but was removed and Peter O’Neil with only 5 MPs in his PNC party became the PM. PNG Party has 25 MPs in the same coalition, the largest, when they replaced Somare. In the recent political crisis, Marape was nominated as opposition candidate for PM even though he did not belong to any party after announcing is resignation from PNC. If he were elected, he would have been the first PM without a political party in PNG, but I assume the world as well (though he was technically PNC MP even after resignation as he did not tender his resignation to RPPC – which would have been interesting because you would have had a PNC MP as PM leading the other side of the government – supported by other parties).
3. Fluidity: when you look at the MPs who change sides during political impasses like the one between April & May 2019, you begin to wonder if the Supreme Court has helped by declaring provisions of the OLIPPAC in 2010 invalid. Under the OLIPPAC, MPs were restricted from moving from one party to another like yo-yos. The court relied on ss. 50 of the Constitution that says individuals are free to run for office, vote, be elected etc., and that the OLIPPAC was restricting these movements. But what you have now as a result of this is, MPs moving at will, killing innocent animals in the process, and all these yoyo is legal, its constitutional. Imagine this, the Sohe MP moved sides 5 times under one month. Counting the fact that he moved from opposition to government after elections, that’s 6 movements before half his term in parliament is up.
I understand that the SC ruled to protect the MPs rights. But what about the rights of voters. Reason why voters voted out PNC MPs in Morobe was because they did not want any association with PNC, but Sam Basil led his 15 MPs, most of whom replaced PNC over to the PNC led government after government was formed. According to Supreme Court interpretation of ss.50 of the Constitution, these 15 MPs had the right to do that… But what about the rights of the voters who didn’t like PNC in the first place? Once you become an elected MP, you’re a custodian of your people’s rights, you have forfeited your individual rights….and the courts should treat the MP as corporate person and not necessarily an individual. Even if he wants to move sides, because of the voters rights invested in him, he should be restrained, unless the voters consent, maybe through a referendum of some sort.
The claim that they sought their people’s approval and they agreed is bullshit. You campaign the breath and length of your electorate over a month during elections but you get their views overnight? And what kind of people would change their views 6 times in one month?