Stay application hearing adjourned

The Attorney General’s urgent application before the Supreme Court, seeking to stay the progressing of the Opposition’s Vote of No Confidence motion, was not heard today but adjourned to May 22.

The adjournment was sought by lawyers representing the Speaker and Clerk of Parliament, because they were unable to get instructions from the Speaker, who is said to be in his electorate.

The Opposition, although not a party in the Supreme Court Reference, also appeared through their lawyer Justin Wohuinangu, on instructions from Opposition Leader Patrick Pruaitch and Shadow Attorney General Kerenga Kua.

The Opposition is not a party because earlier, their application seeking to join in the Attorney General’s Supreme Court Reference was refused by the court.

They believe they have standing or an interest to join as party because of their Vote of No Confidence motion which was lodged in the Speaker’s office on May 7.

The Three-man Supreme Court bench allowed the adjournment, issuing directions to the Opposition to file their application to intervene or join as a party by lunch time on Monday, May 20.

The Opposition’s joinder application will return for hearing on May 21, while the urgent stay application filed by the Attorney General will return for hearing on May 22.

On May 15, the Attorney General Alfred Manase filed an urgent application in the Supreme Court, seeking an order to stay the Parliament and its Committee (PBC) from entertaining or dealing with the Opposition’s notice of motion of no confidence. This is until the Supreme Court makes a final determination of the Supreme Court reference which was lodged by the former Attorney General on 3rd December, 2018.

Despite the reference filed last year, Manase explained in a press conference that the occasion has now risen, thus he filed the urgent application.

“Once the speaker confirms the Vote of No Confidence has been lodged, then it is the responsibility of the Attorney General as the referrer to take the appropriate action so that we preserve the integrity of the three arms of government,” he said.

The reference is seeking the Supreme Court’s interpretation on the legality of a vote of no confidence motion, powers of the Supreme Court to adjudicate over parliamentary processes, as well as whether the nominated Prime Minister must be from a party with the most numbers, among other issues.

The Opposition has also filed a separate Supreme Court Reference in relation to the integrity of political parties.

Sally Pokiton