Tribunal for Prime Minister O’Neill set

by Neville Choi – EM TV, Port Moresby

Chief Justice Salamo Injia has announced his decision to appoint a leadership tribunal to inquire into allegations of misconduct in office made against Prime Minister Peter O’Neill.

The date of the tribunal has been set for 9.30am on Monday on the 26th of January next year. The tribunal consists Sir Peter Blanchard, a retired judge of the Supreme Court of New Zealand; John von Boussa, a retired judge of the Federal Court of Australia and PNG National and Supreme Court Judge Salatiel Lenalia.

The appointment follows a request made to the Chief Justice by Public Prosecutor Pondros Kaluwin on November 14th, 2014.

The allegations of misconduct in office to be addressed are:

  • That the PM failed to comply with administrative and financial processes, including the normal overseas borrowing process, in the approval of a K3 billion loan from the Union Bank of Switzerland to purchase shares in Oil Search Limited and

  • That the purchasing of shares was in the interest of Oil Search Limited and not the state of Papua New Guinea.

Upon learning of the announcement of the leadership tribunal date and composition, Prime Minister Peter O’Neill described it as a ‘positive move’.

“It is best that this tribunal is convened sooner rather than later,” Mr O’Neill said. “I have ultimate respect for the independence of the judiciary. The tribunal hearing will offer the opportunity to present the facts and cross-examine any claims in relation to administrative and financial procedures. This will clear the air on this issue once and for all.”

He said that there had been a great deal of politically motivated misinformation and what he described as ‘politically motivated misinformation and blatant lies’ relating to the purchase of Oil Search shares by the government of Papua New Guinea.

“The purchase of these shares is an investment in the key resource infrastructure of our country. It is time to participate directly in the development of our resources. “Without such investment, we continue to be bystanders in our resources sector, which has been the case in decades past,” he said.

He also raised the question on whether the chair of the NEC, or any member of the NEC, could be singled out over a cabinet decision before saying he would not be commenting any further on the matter until the conclusion of the leadership tribunal.

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