…and they still don’t get it!
Last week the Prime minister thanked members of parliament for support that came from both sides of the House during the passing of two constitutional acts – one for five new ministries and the other to keep the 20 provincial seats.
The “thank you” statement issued by the PM’s office, while seemingly well intentioned, mocks the political prowess of his fellow members of parliament. PNG’s 20 provincial seats, one of which Michael Somare holds, will be contested again in 2012 allowing him another shot at the country’s top job. Somare has always had a taste for the best of everything. The government which he leads, chose to buy the 100 million kina falcon jet while Air Niugini continues to punish its customers with dozens of delayed flights. And he’s still demanding the best for himself! Political allies point out in hushed circles that his pride won’t allow him contest the lowly job of the electorate representative. If he is in the position to make the rules then the rules must suit him. It’s interesting to note that he has done it again. The seasoned politician has, once more, pulled a fast one over his much younger political colleagues by getting two thirds of the house to agree to two constitutional acts that not only saves his pride but also gives him a clear run for the PM’s post in 2012.
That’s not all. Those who voted to retain the provincial seats also voted to increase the number of ministries from 27 to 32 – that’s five new ministries. But why do we need five new ministries? What many Papua New Guineans still don’t realize is that it’s all about Somare and him being Prime Minister! Somare’s push to consolidate present and future power has led to the passing of these two constitutional acts that serve his own political interests. He’s done it since independence and he is doing it again by creating bargaining chips like “new ministries” and “vice ministries” to simply hold on to power and the wealth of Papua New Guinea.
All this is up against a backdrop of uncertainty stemming from loss of confidence in Somare’s leadership which is causing the slow and painful disintegration of the ruling National Alliance Party.
In March, the first hint of that disintegration became public through the media. Then a senior government minister took the unusual step of telling a blogger that “Sir Michael was hell bent on staying in power and was paving the way to form a Pangu-led coalition. The Minister went on further to say that the National Alliance Party – his own party – was not going to nominate him again for the Prime Minster’s post.
“The prime minister does not have the support of many of his senior ministers,” he said. “He’s not listening to the advice of his deputies and he’s doing whatever he pleases.”
Apart from a few, political opponents, the majority of MPs are weak and disempowered by their own choice of looking out for political lollies that that Somare keeps dangling in front of them but doesn’t hand out.
Sir Michael Somare has decided to create five more ministries in addition to the existing ministries. This move is viewed to be directly inline with his political survival strategy for 2012.
With so much bitterness within NA and his date with his former lover (Pangu Party), the creation of five more ministries would enable the chief to lure MPs from the minority parties currently siding with the opposition. This is to consolidate support to ensure, he holds on to power after 2012.
If the chief returns to power in 2012 with Pangu, it will be a full circle of the events in 1975: Somare and Pangu with vested interests in Bougainville then, now it will be Somare and Pangu with vested interest in the Ramu Nickel project.
Should the chief continue to lead this country 2012 onwards?
In the leaked video interview with the PNG’s famous serial bank robber, William Kapris revealed many shocking information in relation to his crimes. In his concluding remarks, he revealed that, he was connected to an Asian criminal ring who are planning to take over the country through the 2012 elections and the formation of the government.
The Asian man named William Lee runs the Black Bank in Port Moresby, where high profile leaders and businesses borrow money from and do business with. Mr. Lee promised Kapris, that when they take over the government in 2012, he will be granted his freedom.
Kapris, said that plans to win the elections and form the government will be done without force or violence. Systems will be manipulated and people will not know until the government is formed to run the country.
Kapris issued a stern warning, that if his warning is taken lightly, the Asians Triad will rule this country. He pledge to corporate and work with the relevant authorities to ensure this doesn’t happen.
There is more rumors going around that, the senior NA members are having difficulty working with Chief Somare. The regional NA leaders are not in good terms with their leader thus leaving a very gloomy situation for NA for the coming elections. The Chief already knows that there is no future for him with NA and is siding up with his former party-the Pangu Party.
The Chiefs courting with the Pangu Party is no secret to the NA regional leaders, however, it is difficult to know who would be the best person to hold NA together after the Chief. Arthur is likely to be dumped by NA if the father leaves, Polye cannot master the support from the highlands block, Pruiatch is caught in high level controversies in his involvement in high profile crimes, the NGI block wants Tiensten gone, and Temu can not get the support without the chief and that leave no strong leader to lead NA.
It is obvious that the coming NA national convention which will be held in Banz will unveil more realities regarding the party’s future. The fact that the Chief is siding with Pangu bring another question, is the Chief planning to continue his political career?
There are rumors that the ruling party-National Alliance is fragmenting from within. NA has been successful in the last two elections and was able to form the two consecutive governments. However if the rumors are true, will that affect NA as a party in the 2012 national elections and the formation of the next government? Is this an indication that NA is crumbling? Will that mean that some of NA members will join up with other political parties or even form their own political parties?
Over the years strong political parties like the Pangu Party, People’s Democratic Movement and People’s National Congress who were instrumental in forming governments crumbled because of rifts within the parties.
Meanwhile, it is said that, the grand chief is the consolidating factor, therefore the NA team is still working together despite disagreements. The party leadership after the chief is not even clear and there are indication that Arthur Somare wants to rid all possible challengers within the NA camp. However some critics feel that, Arthur will not be able to hold the NA camp together or get the support from core NA members.
Well, there is a famous saying, “united we stand, divided we fall” !
The 2012 national elections is already gaining momentum. Political Parties and Politicians are already strategising and mobilizing resources. No doubt, this election is very crucial for PNG and will go down to its history books.
The Somare era is coming to an end, and that will mark the closing of the old chapter and the opening of a new chapter of this nation. The majority of the people of PNG are hoping that, the grand chief would retire after a vigorous political career and let the next generation of leaders to take the button and run.
In the wake of the natural resources development and the LNG project, the country is in the crossroads, whether it walk the paths of our counterparts in Africa or the path to a new level of prosperity PNG never seen before. PNG as a nation is seeing more and more of some of the worlds largest corporations coming (such as the Exxon Mobile) to invest in these natural resources development. The trails they left behind in other third world countries where they plunder have left much to be desired
That is why the 2012 elections is fundamentally important. The National Alliance, is currently the strongest party for the last two terms. The current government has been instrumental in setting the phase for the current economic development model despite some controversies surrounding some of these projects. Therefore, they will want to see continuity of what they put in place and will prove to be a strong force in the coming elections.
The opposition and the other political parties have to come up with election strategies to defeat the NA. Nevertheless the Race is On.
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