Restructuring Of PNG Parliamentary Opposition Underway

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Unofficially THE party leader Polye to replace Namah

By Gorethy Kenneth

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Sept. 24, 2014) – The Triumph Heritage Empowerment (THE) Party is moving to the Opposition, provided it is restructured – that is official.

What is not official is the suggestion yesterday that THE leader Don Polye wants to be new Opposition Leader, replacing incumbent Vanimo-Green MP Belden Namah.

THE Party executive and spokesman Brian Yombon Coppio told the Post-Courier that Mr Polye "and his team" will be moving to the Opposition bench in Parliament but the date of the move would be "appropriately announced". The move comes three weeks after Prime Minister Peter O’Neill dumped THE Party as a coalition partner and six months after he had sacked Mr Polye as treasury minister for what he claimed were attempts to destabilise his People’s National Congress-led colition government.

Mr Coppio said discussions were underway for a restructure of the Opposition and an announcement is expected before the next session of Parliament next month.

Mr Polye was not available yesterday to confirm his Opposition leadership ambitions.

There was talk in Waigani corridors yesterday that new Pangu Pati leader Sam Basil is a contender for the alternate prime minister’s position but he quickly brushed it aside, saying it was not appropriate to discuss the matter as Mr Namah was officially recognised by Parliament as Opposition Leader.

Mr Namah could not be reached for comment yesterday but his office maintained there was no vacancy.

Mr Coppio continued: "The leader has not made any decision yet to join the Opposition.

"However, there is a need to restructure the Opposition in order to have a strong alternative government.

"It is the personality that matters and Mr Polye has a significant number of followers in the Government side, in addition to his 14 THE members.

"Discussions are ongoing and they haven’t agreed yet but that will come once they sort themselves out.

"You know THE Party MPs number 14 as technically and legally those that defected are still THE Party MPs. They are yet to be released by THE Party."

When Mr Polye moves to the Opposition, he is likely to be followed by "his team" which include Mark Maipakai (Kikori), Philip Undialu (Koroba-Lake Kopiago), Julie Soso (Eastern Highlands), Wera Mori (Chuave) and Benjamin Poponawa (Tambul-Nebilyer), Mr Mori the vice-minister for Mining and Mr Poponawa the Labour and Industrial Relations Minister in the current government.

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