The reference filed was in question and opinion of Belden Namah’s appointment as Opposition leader and removal of former Opposition Leader, Patrick Pruaitch.
On the 16th of December 2019, Acting Attorney General, Kerenga Kua, filed a reference against Belden Namah in question to his position as Opposition leader.
The reference was an authority under Section 19 (3) (1) of the Constitution for an opinion and questions relating to the interpretation or application of constitutional laws.
According to court documents, the issue commenced when former Opposition Leader, Patrick Pruaitch, announced on the 10th of September 2019 to join the Government.
The issue further escalated the next day when opposition members Belden Namah and three others conducted a meeting to appoint a new opposition leader.
It was alleged that the meeting settled with Namah as the new opposition leader and was then conveyed to the Speaker of Parliament where he confirmed the appointment on the 18th of September.
On the 23rd of September, 2019, Namah filed a reference in application to declare the election of James Marape as Prime Minister null and void.
Court documents allege that at the time the reference was filed by Namah, Pruaitch still remained the Opposition Leader as he did not formally resign.
A sitting of Parliament on the 8th of October, 2019, had Pruaitch officially move to the government benches in line with his announcement of his intention.
Questions were raised in court, whether or not the Constitution envisaged formal or informal processes to be made if one is to remove or appoint a new opposition leader during a parliament sitting.
Justice Derek Hartshorn, in delivering the hearing, said the matter will be adjourned to the 24th of February, 2020, to allow for further investigation.
(Article by Jasmine Iru – third year UPNG Journalism student)