PNG Post-Courier

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (July 26, 2011) - The Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare is getting better.

It is expected that when he returns, he will retire and the process to retire him has already started. When he retires from politics, he not only steps down as the Prime Minister of this country but as leader of the most successful political party this country had seen for a long while.

In the Mamose region, the debate as to who should fill the vacuum left by him is something that is on the minds of the people from the northern part of this country. The obvious choice is Patrick Pruaitch, but the man is facing a leadership tribunal and he is fighting his referral in the courts.

The next best option is Arthur Somare, and he is qualified for among all the NA MPs apart from his father Sir Michael, he is the longest serving member of Parliament. This is his third term in Parliament but he is also facing a leadership tribunal on misconduct in office charges and the outcome is not determined as yet. Who will become the next deputy leader of the NA from Mamose is still not clear and we hope that Pruaitch and Somare deal with the leadership code issues confronting them before the 2012 national elections.

In the Islands region, Fidelis Semoso is the new NA leader. He took over from long time leader, Paul Tiensten, who we are told is forming a new political party. If what we are hearing is right, then NA can face a still challenge from the former leader in the region in the coming general elections. Will Semoso win the seats for the NA in 2012?

In the southern region, Sir Puka Temu founded the NA and was its deputy parliamentary leader but when he moved over to the Opposition to change the Government in a failed vote of no-confidence move, MP for Kikori, Mark Maipakai, a senior NA member and Foreign Affairs Minister Ano Pala, had a tussle for the deputy leadership post. It is now recognized that Pala is the leader and like Semoso in Islands, will he win the votes for NA in 2012?

The Highlands came in with five NA MPs in 2002 and in 2007, it came in with 12 MPs, the region with the highest number to the NA party. If NA had strictly followed its constitution at that time, the deputy leader Don Polye would have been Prime Minister but that did not happen. The rest is history.

In the last four years, the parliamentary wing of the NA Highlands has played a dominant role in the politics in Government. With Sir Michael at the helm, nothing could go wrong and if there was any dissent in the party, the wily old Grand Chief would resolve the issue without a fuss.

It all started when Sir Michael demoted Polye, the most senior NA MP from the Deputy Prime Minister’s post and handed it over to his Engan brother Sam Abal, who was then foreign Affairs Minister. Then he made Abal acting Prime Minister when he went to Singapore for the medical check, which led to his hospitalization and operations. It was no secret that Sir Michael was retiring from politics at the end of this term. He may have had a grand scheme in place for his NA party when he announced that reshuffle but it would seem now that the grand master of PNG politics had made a tactical error. We are of the opinion now that things are not going the way Sir Michael had anticipated; in fact it is getting out of control. It has developed to the point where the man Sir Michael had appointed as acting PM is isolated by the NA Party and there are a lot of unhappy MPs from NA going around the country right now.

Is this the end of the road for NA? Papua New Guineans are watching and waiting.

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