Basil: Victory for democracy and constitution

Deputy Opposition Leader Sam Basil has described the Supreme Court’s decision this morning as a victory for democracy and the Constitution.

Speaking to the media outside the Waigani Court house today, Basil said this win is about democracy and respect for the constitution.

Basil made the comments soon after the high court ruled in favour of the Opposition’s application and ordered the Speaker to recall Parliament within 5 days, from today, to debate the no-confidence motion against the Prime Minister.

“We are talking about respect for the office of the Prime Minister, not you, the person occupying the position,” he said.

Lawyer for the Opposition Loani Henao said they are happy that the Parliament will be recalled within 5 days and it is incumbent for the Members of Parliament to follow the orders of the court and assemble within the given period to deal with the motion of no-confidence.

“The case is important because it once against demonstrates that the constitution of the country is more powerful than the government. This is not an application only by the Opposition or leader of the Opposition; this is an application by the people of this country.

“Parliament must behave properly in accordance with the constitution. How many times can the people go to the Supreme Court to fix the wrong of the parliament? This is the third time the Supreme Court has fixed decision of the parliament,” Henao said.

In recent times, the government passed the 30 months amendment to the constitution, and the Supreme Court ruled that, that was unconstitutional.

More recently, the Supreme Court ruled that the amendment to the Constitution to facilitate the asylum seekers in this country was unconstitutional.

“This time the Supreme Court has ruled that the behavior of a parliament and the behavior of government in manipulating the business committee to avoid debate on the motion of no-confidence was unconstitutional; so the message to the government of the day and also to the government of the future, is that the people have spoken through the Supreme Court.

“So we hope that this will be a lesson. Constitution is above the government and above everybody. It is the job of the Opposition and my job as a lawyer to make sure that the people’s constitution and right is protected and not to be abused by the government,” Henao added.

Sally Pokiton