Monday, 19 November 2007 9:25 AM

Meet Seeks to Solve Week-Long Power Row

The Governor General has the legal power under Standing Order 7 (3) to cause Parliament to meet.

This was a clear understanding reached in a meeting over the weekend between the Opposition Leader, Fred Fono, and the Governor General, Sir Nathaniel Waena.

Sir Nathaniel, in the meeting, made assurances that he will soon announce convening of Parliament after having consulted the Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare and the Speaker of National Parliament, Sir Peter Kenilorea.

The call will be the latest bid to find a solution in the week-long political upheaval in the country between the government and the Parliamentary Opposition.

In the meeting, the Opposition group strongly submitted that whilst a decision of the Court of Appeal denied the Governor General of any reserved powers, the Court recognised that the Governor General has power of dispensation and power to change date and time available under Standing Order 7(3).

The meeting considered and debated the constitutional provisions and the application of Court of Appeal judgment in the Ulufa'alu case of 1998 on the current political impasse.

It was submitted that the Governor General is entitled to consult the Prime Minister to set a date for a Parliament meeting.

A date had been determined but postponed to an indefinite date.

Counsel for the Opposition Group, Gabriel Suri, submitted at the meeting that the legal power under that Standing order was available to deal with cases of emergency.

Opposition leader, Mr. Fono, said that in this circumstance, the case of emergency has arisen because Parliament is required by Section 102 of the Constitution to pass an Appropriation Act before commencement of the financial year 2008.

Mr. Fono stressed that this was mandatory constitutional commandment.

The Governor General assured the meeting that as Guardian of the national constitution, he would not allow spending of public funds in January 2008 in breach of the clear provisions of the constitution.

Also in attendance at the meeting was Counsel for the Opposition Group, Gabriel Suri, Solicitor General in the Attorney General's Chamber, Reginald Teutao, and the Deputy Private Secretary to the Governor General, Rockcliff Ziza.