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Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Moti saga creates fire in PNG Parliament yesterday


Anti-Australia sentiments erupted in the Papua New Guinea Parliament yesterday over the Julian Moti saga in support of a statement from Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare calling for other countries to respect Papua New Guinea’s sovereignty.

Sir Michael said an initial report presented to him indicated that Australia may not have correctly followed the extradition process. He was adamant, however, that the flight of Moti in a PNG Defence Force aircraft into Solomon Islands did not have Government permission.

The PNG Parliament met in the briefest session in its history when it sat for only 80 minutes yesterday, debating the Moti saga with other issues.

Sir Michael, who is also Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister, told Parliament: “This Government does not want to cause any diplomatic row with Australia over its request for the extradition of Moti. As Prime Minister, I want only to make sure that the decisions that we take are in accordance with our laws and our Constitution.”

Chief Australia basher from previous encounters, Morobe Governor Luther Wenge accused Australia of breaking international laws and Australian foreign minister Alexander Downer of being “over emotional”. Mr Wenge said PNG got independence on Sept 16, 1975, and was not a state of Australia. He said the laws of PNG, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu were the same as Australia and accused Australia of having “ulterior motives” when a Vanuatu court had already acquitted Moti.

Sir Michael also made a statement to Parliament to explain the Government’s position on the arrest of Solomon Islands attorney-general Moti, who Australian police want over a child molestation charge in Vanuatu.

“Firstly, I am not here to protect any individual but to uphold the sovereignty of the Independent State of Papua New Guinea.” The Prime Minister said PNG is a country completely different to Australia and, therefore, any request coming to Papua New Guinea from any country must go through the proper legal and appropriate diplomatic channels such as the Department of Foreign Affairs. Sir Michael said PNG has in place the Extradition Act 2005 and its provisions outline clearly the way in which an extradition process is to take place.

“The Attorney-General’s advice indicated that this process was not fully complied with and the arrest of Julian Moti by our authorities was not executed in accordance with this Act. If we allow our departments to be dictated to by unauthorised notices from a foreign government, we are slowly eroding our sovereignty as an independent nation.”

Sir Michael said the imposition of the Extradition Act was a complex matter and he appealed to leaders not to make ill-informed comments that do little to resolve anything. However, he said as the arrest had been made and the courts were involved, the Government had respected and upheld the process of law to take its course.

“I state categorically to this Parliament and to the people of Papua New Guinea that the covert operation that took place last week for Moti to leave PNG was done without the sanction from this Government. I want to make it emphatically clear that I did not have any prior knowledge of this operation, nor did I authorise it. Any suggestions to the contrary are mischievous and untrue.”

The Prime Minister said such an unauthorised action has very serious implications and the Government would deal with those concerned within PNG laws and regulations.
Sir Michael said the Government is not taking the matter lightly as he had instructed an investigation into the escape of Moti. He said investigations are continuing and he will make a detailed statement to Parliament in due course.

Source: The PNG National

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