PNG Opposition’s Numbers Continue To Decrease

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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

PNG Opposition’s Numbers Continue To Decrease 46 parliamentarians now stand with ruling PNC Party

By Jeffrey Elapa

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, May 23, 2013) – In Papua New Guinea, Opposition numbers have dwindled to only six following the latest defection by Kandrian-Gloucester MP Joseph Lelang.

Lelang, who was fined for breaches of the Leadership Code earlier this month, has joined Prime Minister Peter O’Neill’s People’s National Congress (PNC) Party, boosting its strength to 46 MPs.

His move follows on the heels of another West New Britain MP, Francis Marus (Talasea).

Earlier in the week, Marus left the PNG Party led by Opposition Leader Belden Namah to join the People’s Resources Party of Petroleum and Energy Minister William Duma. PRP is a major coalition partner with nine MPs.

The six MPs left in the Opposition are Namah (Vanimo-Green), deputy leader Sam Basil (Bulolo), Tobias Kulang (Kundiawa-Gembogl), Dr. Allan Marat (Rabaul), Ross Seymour (Huon Gulf) and Madang Governor Jim Kas.

An Opposition spokesman last night described Lelang’s move as a total surprise, saying that Namah would make a statement on the recent defections before the end of this week.

Prime Minister Peter O’Neill yesterday welcomed Lelang to the PNC, saying he had a wealth of experience as a former secretary for National Planning who contributed to the drafting of key development plans.

O’Neill assured the country that his party and the government would not abuse their powers, despite increasing their numbers to an absolute majority in Parliament.

"We assure the nation that we will not abuse the country using our numbers and we will do things correctly to address issues in the country that have never been addressed before," he told a media conference in Parliament," he said.

He added that the government was ready to work with the opposition.

West New Britain Governor Sasindran Muthuvel, who defected to the government last year, said he was pleased that Lelang and Marus had joined him as they would all work together to develop the province.

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