PNG leader Marape’s no confidence ‘accountability’ vote set for May

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Hiri-Koiari MP Keith Iduhu (from left), Kerenga Kua of Sinasina-Yongomugl (former energy minister), and opposition leader Douglas Tomuriesa
Hiri-Koiari MP Keith Iduhu (from left), Kerenga Kua of Sinasina-Yongomugl (former energy minister), and opposition leader Douglas Tomuriesa . . . "people are sick and tired of [the James Marape] government." Image: Gorethy Kenneth/Post Courier

By Scott Waide, RNZ Pacific PNG correspondent, and Lydia Lewis, RNZ Pacific journalist

A vote of no confidence in Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister James Marape is set to be moved on May 29.

Sinasina-Yongamugl Open MP Kerenga Kua told the media yesterday that the Marape government had “subverted the opposition’s attempts to hold them accountable for their actions”.

“I want to give confidence to the people of Papua New Guinea that this opposition is committed to ensuring that this government is brought to account,” Kua, an opposition MP, said at a media conference in Port Moresby.

“People are screaming for accountability. On behalf of the people. We are serious. The people are sick and tired of this government.

“They want to see the back of this government. They want to see them out.”

The opposition bloc stands by the motion filed on February 20 despite discrepancies raised by the overseeing Private Business Committee in a letter.

“The Acting Speaker was clear and advised that there was a discrepancy or discrepancies and so on legal advice, we have opted to not challenge that stance.

“But then by the position that the integrity of the notice of motion that we have filed is intact,” said opposition MP Keith Iduhu.

Accused the opposition
He said in their view there were no issues with the paper despite the Prime Minister having “rubbished it” and accused the opposition of forging names.

“If the committee or this chair decides to tamper with the motion . . . in any manner other than contemplated by the Supreme Court, section 23 of the constitution will be invoked and punitive measures will be sought from the courts,” Iduhu said.

“What that means is that penalties to the tune of even imprisonment up to 10 years,” he said.

“We will not hesitate to exercise our rights and the cause under the constitution.”

RNZ Pacific understands that Acting Speaker Koni Iguan and the Private Business Committee would be impacted on if that is the case.

Meanwhile, Marape said last week he would refer the second motion of no confidence paper — the one the opposition bloc said it stands by — to the Parliamentary Privileges Committee following allegations of forgery.

“It looks as if somebody is cutting and pasting these signatures and filling in names,” Marape said.

Acting Speaker Iguan told Parliament on Thursday last week that the first motion of no confidence did not qualify to be listed on the notice paper.

All MPs accountable – watchdog
Transparency International PNG (TIPNG) said the abuse of Parliament’s processes undermined public confidence and “fed corruption”.

TIPNG said all MPs were ultimately accountable to the people of PNG.

The anti-corruption watchdog said undermining democratic processes not only erodes public trust but hinders the country’s progress and development.

It said the refusal of the acting speaker to allow the motion for a vote against the prime minister, followed by an adjournment until May raises serious questions.

TIPNG chair Peter Aitsi said the motion is a fundamental tool within the parliamentary system, allowing MPs to hold the executive accountable.

He said denying a no confidence motion without due process was an affront to the democratic rights of both the opposition and the people they represented.

It “perpetuates a culture of impunity and weakens the already fragile checks and balances within the government and fuels an environment rife to corrupt behaviour,” he said.

This article is republished under a community partnership agreement with RNZ.

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