PNG RULING COALITION WOOS OPPOSITION LAWMAKERS

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Portfolios, cash reportedly on the table

By Pearson Kolo PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Feb. 17, 2010) – In Papua New Guinea (PNG), coalition parties in the government have been wooing members of political parties in the Opposition allegedly promising them portfolios and millions of kina for their districts.

This has been reportedly intense over the last weeks leading up to the time Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare announced that there would be a reshuffle in the Cabinet.

Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare told Opposition Leader Sir Mekere Morauta during a meeting to appoint constitutional office holders on February 1 that he would not give any portfolios to the Opposition saying he (Sir Michael) has a long queue behind him.

But several Members of the Opposition said they would not be lured into the Government just because of promises of portfolios or millions of kina.

"Being a leader is not that simple to be compromised by such promises," the Opposition’s young leaders Sam Basil and Theo Zurenuoc said. "Being a leader is about having the trust and confidence of the people who elected us and to maintain our integrity as leaders."

The two leaders said they were aware of political parties in the current coalition government talking with some members of the Opposition to move them over.

"But we will remain where we are," Mr. Zurenuoc said.

Government insiders also confirmed yesterday that there was intense lobbying within the Government ranks where Government ministers and MPs were after portfolios.

It is understood that Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare is waiting for a decision to be made by the court on the Organic Law on the Integrity of Political Parties and Candidates (OLIPAC) to be handed down before the reshuffle is made.

[PIR editor’s note: According to Dr. Orovu Sepoe (2005), the implementation of OLIPPAC took effect in 2001 when the Central Fund Board (renamed the Integrity Commission following the 2003 amendment) and the Office of the Registrar of Political Parties was established. The members have to play a crucial role in ensuring the independence of the Integrity Commission by standing above party politics and any other political pressure. Otherwise, the vision of OLIPPAC would be seriously comprised and undermined. However, instability continued particularly as a result of leadership struggles within major political parties and this was in turn due to the failure of political parties to comply with provisions of OLIPPAC. The effectiveness of OLIPPAC is dependent on key actors. If registered political parties and Members of Parliament comply with provisions of OLIPPAC then we can expect some degree of political stability. In addition, if the independence and the capacity of the Registrar’s Office and the Integrity Commission are not undermined they can carry out their mandate effectively. Ultimately, OLIPPAC is as good as the users who abide by it and are serious about political stability and the common good.]

Senior government ministers are currently attending the national Cabinet meeting in Kimbe.

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