East Sepik govt stripped of financial powers
The fight for legitimacy between the toppled Somare regime and the O’Neill government has taken a new twist with reports emerging that cabinet has stripped the East Sepik provincial government of its financial powers.
The East Sepik provincial executive has filed a Supreme Court reference questioning the legality of the August 2 election of Prime Minister Peter O’Neill. However local newspaper The National has reported that cabinet has suspended the financial powers of the provincial government, which could have implications for its high court proceedings.
Former state enterprise minister Arthur Somare, whose Angoram electorate is in the East Sepik province, has condemned the move and urged corruption watchdog the Ombudsman Commission to intervene.
“I call on the Ombudsman Commission, other constitutional office-holders and the public to see this latest play for what it is – a bold attempt to subvert the constitution. This is a desperate action by a desperate group of politicians who are hungry for power and who are willing to destroy the constitutional foundations of our democratic society. These are desperate people who are willing to break the nation’s laws to feed their hunger for greed and power,” he reportedly said.
Ironically the last provincial government to be suspended by the PNG national government belonged to the mineral-rich Southern Highlands, O’Neill’s home province. It is not known if the O’Neill government planned to fully suspend and withdraw the powers of the East Sepik provincial government, as the article suggested.
The Prime Minister’s office is yet to release a statement to confirm or deny the report.