PNG GOVERNMENT RESCINDS PARLIAMENT VOTE

By Yehiura Hriehwazi

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Nov. 27) – Papua New Guinea Deputy Prime Minister Andrew Baing has been sacked and replaced by Agriculture Minister Moses Maladina, leader of People's Action Party.

Mr Maladina is expected to be sworn in as new Deputy Prime Minister this morning.

The People's Progress Party leader was sacked for not supporting the Government in voting for the Constitutional amendment that proposes to protect the Government for 36 months from threats of votes no-confidence instead of the present 18 months. 

The government could only muster 61 against 17. It was down by 12 votes from the required two-thirds majority of 73 votes. 

The Government rescinded the vote and is expected to reintroduce it this morning for another attempt.

If it fails again today to pass the amendment, sources said last night, the whole composition of the coalition government was expected to change to ensure that the ruling National Alliance-led Government stays in office until the next general elections. Sources said the Government was confident of staying in office with 62 members of parliament after getting rid of "fortune hunters." They said NA was prepared to sacrifice more ministries if necessary. 

In a day of drama on the floor of Parliament, Mr Baing walked into the Chamber and took his seat between Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare and Treasurer Mr Bart Philemon after question time.

As soon as the amendment bill was introduced for its second reading, Mr Baing got out of his chair and left the Chamber. Five of his party members including Minister Paul Tiensten (Trade and Industry) and Mark Maipakai (Justice) remained in the chamber and voted for the amendment bill - something which the Deputy Speaker later over-ruled as being in breach of the party's resolution of November 11th. 

Mr Baing reappeared after the vote was taken and resumed his seat, but neither the Prime Minister nor Mr Philemon had much to say to him.

He attempted to make a personal explanation but was shouted down by Government members of parliament, including some Ministers, and leave was not granted (for him to speak).

When Parliament adjourned yesterday, Mr Baing released a statement and accused the Prime Minister for "personally spearheading the most unpopular Constitutional amendment ever attempted since Independence."

Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare argued strongly for the amendment when debating the second reading of the bill but was opposed by Opposition leader Sir Mekere Morauta on grounds that if a "rogue" Prime Minister were in control, he would destroy the nation in three years.

Sir Michael told the Chamber that "we create instability among ourselves" and instead of going forward, PNG was not progressing. Leaders should realize the problem of instability through the no confidence motion and allow for a government to stay in office for five years after which the voters could decide on the its performance.

Sir Mekere however said there had been no instability in the last 30 years and the motive of the proposed amendment was clear ... "it's naked before our eyes, its ugliness is clear and no clothing will hide it," he said in reference to the Government motive of trying to legislate to stay in office for five years. He said him and his party were not opposed to Sir Michael Somare who, he said, "is a good leader." 

"When Michael Somare is not there and we have a rogue Prime Minister, we will destroy the country," said Sir Mekere. The Opposition leader was repeatedly yelled at with interjections from Government MPs and Ministers alike but the acting Speaker was able to bring the House under control and allowed Sir Mekere to finish.

Question was put soon after Sir Mekere spoke and his repeated attempts to get a clarification from the chair on an advice to Parliament from the Registrar of Political Parties was also gagged.

November 27, 2003

The National: www.thenational.com.pg/

 

 

Rate this article: 
No votes yet

Add new comment