PNG TREASURER QUESTIONS SOMARE ON AINI SACKING

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Feb. 28) – PNG Treasurer Rabbie Namaliu yesterday expressed disappointment that Prime Minister Michael Somare did not personally convey his decision to sack Pangu Pati member and Defence Minister Martin Aini.

Sir Rabbie, Mr. Aini, and Pangu Pati officials only knew of the Grand Chief reprimanding the Kavieng MP during a Cabinet meeting on Monday night, unaware that Somare’s daughter and press secretary Ms. Betha had sent out an email at 6:10 p.m. on the same day to the media to advise of the minister’s "decommissioning." They became aware of the sacking yesterday morning when both daily newspapers ran the story on the front page and included details of Ms. Somare’s email.

When questioned by the Post-Courier yesterday if Sir Michael advised him of his decision to sack Aini, the Pangu parliamentary leader said, "No."

Asked what he thought of the Prime Minister announcing it on the floor of Parliament, Namaliu said, "We are obviously very disappointed after he (Somare) had reprimanded him (Aini) in Cabinet last night and gave him a warning that this time around he would not have him sacked. But the next time around, he would if he did it again. I guess I was even more disappointed that the first confirmation we had of that -- officially -- was on the floor."

While he reiterated that only the party will decide whether Pangu continued to remain part of the Government, a statement sent out by the Kokopo MP yesterday afternoon acknowledged that it was the prerogative of the prime minister to remove the minister.

Sir Rabbie said Aini up till his sacking had stood firm on his principles, which reflected the virtues of honesty, integrity, good governance and the upholding of the rule of law that Pangu stood for.

Revelations of the sacking yesterday morning surprised a number of ministers as they were only aware of Aini’s reprimanding, catching even the Kavieng MP off guard and compelling him to seek advice from the Clerk’s office on new sitting arrangements.

Parliament had no official confirmation of Aini’s sacking until Namatanai MP Byron Chan asked Somare to confirm it.

Mr. Chan also asked the Prime Minister what he thought of PNG Trade Union Congress secretary general John Paska’s comments that his decision to disband the Moti inquiry "spits contempt" on PNG’s judiciary.

"If the leader of the trade union wants to go and contest the East Sepik seat, tell him to go and contest it," Somare said in reply.

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