Pruaitch reference given nod for hearing

Opposition Leader Patrick Pruaitch’s reference, which he filed before the Supreme Court seeking interpretation over the legality of James Marape’s election as Prime Minster on May 30, has been fixed for hearing on September 20.

The Opposition leader’s reference went before the Supreme Court today where a number of issues were attended to.

Among them, the issue of Patrick Pruaitch’s standing as Opposition leader in bringing his questions before the Supreme Court to interpret.

Another was the joinder applications by the Speaker and Acting Clerk of parliament.

Parliament Speaker Job Pomat was allowed to join in as a party or intervene in the Supreme Court reference in which Pruaitch is asking the court to determine whether the election of James Marape as Prime Minister on 30 May 2019 is legal.

The acting clerk of parliament, Kala Aufa’s joinder application was however refused as the three-man Supreme Court bench was of the view the acting clerk is the advisor to the Speaker and is supposed to provide support and records to assist the speaker.

Another issue the Supreme Court dealt with today was the issue of standing and whether the Opposition Leader had valid grounds to bring the reference for the court to interpret.

Submissions were presented before the Supreme Court bench consisting of Chief Justice Sir Gibbs Salika, Justice Ellenas Batari and Justice Oagile Key Dingake. 

The full court this afternoon found that Pruaitch as Opposition Leader has standing or an interest in bringing the issue to court for interpretation.

The reference has been fixed for hearing on 20 September before the Supreme Court, where they will hear to determine the issues or questions the Opposition leader is raising.

The reference is asking the court to interpret section 50, 59, 108, 142 and 158(2) of the Constitution that addresses any purported withdrawal of the nomination for the vacant position of the prime minister other than the nominator was unconstitutional.

Pruaitch takes issue with Parliament Speaker Job Pomat when he accepted and then withdrew his (Pruaitch) nominated candidate, former prime minister Peter O’Neill, in June when there was a vacancy in the Prime Minister’s Office after O’Neill had stepped down.

Sally Pokiton