|Friday, 25 May 2012|
DEPUTY Prime Minister Belden Namah has orchestrated the dramatic arrest of Chief Justice Sir Salamo Injia over claims of sedition. More controversy is expected to unfold today as police have blocked access to parliament.
First reports on Namah’s retribution against the recent Supreme Court verdict emerged on twitter yesterday.
Namah had previously threatened to arrest Injia and two other judges if they did not resign for their decision that the O’Neill-Namah government was illegitimate.
According to the ABC’s PNG correspondent Liam Fox, Namah charged into the Supreme Court with “police and soldiers” to arrest Injia.
Another fast and prominent PNG tweeter, Tavurvur, said Namah shouted “this country is bigger than Injia” at the time.
Injia quickly fled and locked himself in his private chambers. However, after a lengthy standoff he agreed to be arrested in order to maintain peace.
Fox reported that Injia did not say anything during a brief court appearance this morning and the matter was adjourned to July.
He also reported that unarmed police were blocking off access to parliament this morning to prevent it from sitting so the election can proceed.
In what may be a sign of yet more trouble ahead, PNGIndustryNews.net has spoken to a source this morning who said that Prime Minister Peter O’Neill was on his way to parliament.
The arrest of Injia follows a press report earlier yesterday that more Highlands-based police had been flown into the capital.
It is unclear if Namah had O’Neill’s backing to execute an arrest of Injia and there is already suspicion that this arrest was an illegal act.
Namah, along with other key cabinet ministers, is subject to contempt of court proceedings before the Supreme Court.
PNGIndustryNews.net is seeking comment from Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
“Independence of the judiciary and the separation of powers are important principles in a democracy,” a department spokesperson told PNG Report in March.
But there are few signs yet that the Australian government will change its soft stance over the ongoing constitutional crisis in PNG.
While there might be some fears the latest twists in the power play between key politicians and the judiciary will result in a delayed election, it should be noted that considerable funds have already been spent as part of campaign efforts.
Many members of parliament remain on the campaign trail elsewhere in PNG – which is what prevented the special meeting of Parliament O’Neill sought earlier this week.
Polling is due to start on June 23 and continue through to July 6. The election writs are due back on July 27.
Sir Michael Somare was recently found to be the rightful PM for a second time by the Supreme Court. Despite previously signalling he would exit politics, Somare has decided to contest his East Sepik regional seat.
Somare condemned Namah’s action yesterday.
“Only rogues and longlong [crazy] men like Belden Namah can go into the court house to arrest the chief justice,” Somare said according to The National.
During his election campaigning Namah revealed he wants to become PM.
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