PRIME Minister Sir Michael Somare has appointed Angoram MP Arthur Somare the acting Finance and Treasury Minister, The National reports.
Government insiders told The National the prime minister signed the instrument for the appointment of Somare last Friday, and a public announcement on this change is expected this week.
This portfolio became vacant after incumbent Patrick Pruaitch was suspended from office because of his referral to a leadership tribunal over allegations of misconduct in office.
Pruatich is challenging his referral in court, and the case is pending.
There has been a lot of jostling and lobbying for this job since Pruaitch vacated it, and a number of ministers and backbenchers were hoping the job would go to them. But, insiders said, the job had to remain in the Momase region under the Kokopo Agreement that the National Alliance and its coalition partners agreed to after the general elections.
“A number of eligible and qualified candidates have missed out, but that is the nature of these political agreements,” an insider said when confirming the appointment of Somare.
Somare will double up as Public Enterprises Minister as well.
But the appointment raised eyebrows in some circles, with Somare also confronting misconduct allegations of his own.
The public prosecutor last week asked the chief justice to appoint a judge to head a leadership tribunal to inquire into allegations of misconduct in office which were referred in 2006.
Somare continues to hold office because he had taken out an injunction against his suspension, and is challenging his referral in court.