SOMARE LOSING GROUND AS PNG FACTIONS JOSTLE

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But numbers still shy of parliament ouster

By Simon Eroro PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Dec. 30, 2010) – In Papua New Guinea (PNG), the possibility of a change in government is becoming more apparent with government factions pledging to break ranks and join the Opposition when Parliament meets to elect the Governor-General on January 11.

Following obvious cracks and splits within the ruling National Alliance Party of sidelined Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare, interviews were conducted by the Post-Courier among government Members of Parliament (MPs) to see where they would sway in the event of a no-confidence motion against the government. About 22 MPs in two factions of the government indicated they would move for a change in government. Many said it was time to bring upon change to the political direction of the country. Among them are senior ministers in the cabinet.

[PIR editor’s note: Former Governor General, Sir Paulius Matane stepped down from his position earlier this month because his re-election in June this year was considered invalid. Michael Somare also stepped down as PNG’s Prime Minister to allow the Leadership Tribunal to investigate allegations of improprieties regarding his listing of financial statements and misconduct in office.]

Many MPs were concerned that they were being left out in the cold while a few were controlling project funding the ones who were close cohorts of the so-called kitchen cabinet were treated favorably than the rest.

If the 22 Members all move to the Opposition, it would boost its numbers to just over 40. The required numbers to overthrow the government is 55.

These MPs said while they have respect for Sir Michael Somare and his contributions to PNG, they could not comprehend how certain Members of Parliament in government were demarcating themselves from the rest of the Members. They think that we are useless, they said.

They said many of the initial agreements before this government was formed continue to be breached, therefore, there is no guarantee that they should remain with this government.

This leaves us with no choice but to join forces with the Opposition ranks to overthrow the superpowers, one Minister said jokingly.

Member for Abau Sir Puka Temu who walked out of the government while serving as Deputy Prime minister said yesterday that the Opposition was ready to give notice of vote of no-confidence to Acting Speaker Francis Marus before the Parliament returns on January 11, 2011.

Sir Puka said based on the legal advice they have obtained, the Opposition will be giving the notice anytime as it can not be given only during Parliament Sitting days.

He said they expect the Private Business Committee to meet on Wednesday January 12, 2011 and the decision will be handed over to the to the Clerk of Parliament to put on Notice Paper for the Private Business on Thursday 13, January, 2011.

The former Deputy Prime Minister said the Governor General’s election will take more than a week and they were making sure all in support of the motion signed the notice for the vote of no-confidence before the date now scheduled for the recall of Parliament.

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