SOMARE FAILS AGAIN AT PNG AMENDMENT

By Yehiura Hriehwazi

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Dec. 3) - "The lines are now clearly visible," a government spokesman said last night following the second failed attempt to pass the second reading of the constitutional amendment on no-confidence motions.

Sitting arrangements on the floor of Parliament are also expected to be rearranged this week to reflect the developments where MPs who voted for the amendment bill would be seated as government MPs and those who did not will sit on the opposition benches, the spokesman said.

The spokesman said: "It's now a lot clearer as we know who is who and where they stand." 

It is expected that the People's Labor Party (PLP), led by Usino Bundi MP Peter Yama, will be dumped from government while Housing Minister Yuntuvi Bao, a PLP member, could be given special recognition for his efforts in supporting the government.

Mr Yama voted against the amendment bill despite personally meeting with Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare on Monday and ironing out a few differences.

The crisis in the People's Progress Party that began after party leader Andrew Baing was sacked from the cabinet is slowly settling down. 

Acting Speaker Jeffrey Nape yesterday recognized five of its members and their decision to vote in favor of Section 145 amendment as the party's resolved decision.

Five of the PPP's eight MPs supported the constitutional amendment. They are deputy party leader and Minister for Trade and Industry Paul Teinsten, Justice Minister Mark Maipakai, Dr Allan Marat (Member for Rabaul), Timothy Tala (Imbonggu) and Petrus Thomas (Koroba Lake Kopiago). 

The three who opposed the amendment are Mr Baing, Guao Zurenuoc (Finschhafen) and Byron Chan (Namatanai).

In recognizing the Tiensten-faction, the acting Speaker ruled that those who did not wish to support the bill should abstain. This led Mr Baing, Mr Chan and Mr Zurenuoc to leave the chamber during the vote. 

The Speaker further ruled that since he has recognized the majority vote of the PPP members, the party's first resolution to vote for the amendment bill in September was still valid.

This ruling nullifies the move taken by Mr Baing last week when he wrote Parliament Clerk Ano Pala seeking their referrals to the Registrar of Political Parties and the Ombudsman Commission for possible misconduct charges arising from the then rescinded vote on Section 145.

A meeting convened by the PPP members yesterday agreed not to decide on the leadership issue in order to "allow the dust to settle" and they had a "heart-to-heart" discussion that lasted for one hour.

In the meeting, according to sources, they agreed to change the leadership through the appropriate process and to allow Mr Baing to step down "honorably". The party's general secretary Amos Daniel did not attend yesterday's meeting. Mr Baing, Mr Zurenuoc and Mr Chan also did not attend. 

The next PPP meeting is expected next Tuesday when the leadership issue will be decided. Dr Marat is expected to take back the leadership from Mr Baing.

A major reshuffle in the cabinet is expected as soon as Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare returns from Nigeria. The Pangu Pati is expected to be rewarded with a ministry for consistently supporting the government.

December 3, 2003

The National: www.thenational.com.pg/

 

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