…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.