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Polye reportedly refused to assume ministerial post

By Simon Eroro and Todagia Kelola

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Dec. 31, 2010) – The National Alliance Party’s Highlands bloc is expected to cause an upset within the government rank-and-file if actions of sacked Deputy Prime Minister Don Polye and his supporters are any indication.

Mr Polye has refused to take up his new portfolio – Foreign Affairs and Immigration – since he was dumped as Deputy PM and Minister for Works, Transport and Civil Aviation three weeks ago. This is not a good sign for the government with the Opposition pressing on with its motion for a no-confidence vote in the government.

In what then Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare thought was a smart move, he replaced Mr Polye with fellow Engan Mr Sam Abal as Deputy Prime Minister and this has caused a ground-swell of opposition in Enga Province and NA’s 12 highlands bloc MPs who have signed a regional party resolution to support Mr Polye as their deputy NA leader (Highlands).

Last week Mr Abal attempted to bring the highlands bloc together and have him elected as deputy party leader instead of Mr Polye amounted to a confidence gathering for Mr Polye and Mr Abal is on his own. Insiders also told this newspaper that Mr Polye was not happy with the Foreign ministry and was adamant that he be given his previous portfolio of Works, Transport and Civil Aviation. In the meantime the NA Highlands Bloc’s Secretary General Mr Nathan Piari fired a stinging attack on Enga Governor Peter Ipatas and Southern Highlands Governor Anderson Agiru calling them "power hungry dogs" who were currently in "sheep skin".

He accused them of influencing Sir Michael to decommission Mr Polye as Deputy PM and appointed Mr Abal in his place, a move Mr Piari claimed, was orchestrated by the two Governors to kill NA in the Highlands and in Enga. Mr Piari called on Sir Michael Somare to immediately reinstate Mr Polye back as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Works, Transport and Civil Aviation. He claimed that the two governors had gone all out to kill NA in the Highlands in the last General Elections but that did not happen in the polls.

Mr Ipatas had denied being instrumental in the appointment of Mr Abal as Deputy PM and said it was the prerogative of the Prime Minister. Foreign Affairs officials yesterday confirmed that Mr Polye was yet to move into his new office as Foreign Minister. Attempts to contact Mr Polye for comments were unsuccessful yesterday however a senior staff said the minister was reluctant to occupy his new office because he was humiliated by his removal from the DPM’s office while he was still deputy leader of NA (Highland).

But it is understood that his refusal to take up the Foreign Ministry is a clear indication of what is likely to happen on the floor of Parliament which will meet on January 11 to elect a new Governor-General. A Minister (named) who is among the government MPs rallying to break ranks the government and move to the Opposition in support of its no-confidence vote said the government has a big problem. "The government does have a big problem. And the person who created the problem must fix it if stability within this NA led government is to remain till 2012 National Elections. The support is there but bad decisions were slowly destroying the government," this Minister said.

"The issue on PNG LNG project was an impacted project in the country and as such, the presence of the Minister was very vital in the department," officers from the department said.

Another MP told the Post Courier that the signs of drifts and cracks within the government were very clear and visible enough for the country to know.

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