By REG RENAGI
The political stability PNG has endured under Prime Minister Michael Somare since 2002 is becoming unravelled.
This can be prevented by the man in the centre of action – acting PM, Sam Abal.
Yes, this whole situation can be well managed with the required finesse; if Abal’s formerly acquired skills of diplomacy are properly
exercised with some careful measure of prudency.
Yes, citizens should now be asking their local members ‘relevant questions’ who must now indicate to their respective constituencies as
to how they will cast their vote without fear or favour if parliament is to elect a new prime minister this year in accordance with our
Well, should parliament elect a new prime minister?
But first let’s look at how this whole political situation could have all been avoided in the first place.
The predicament facing the acting PM now is a result of having left something outstanding for too long by the government since 2002.
Had something being done then to prepare for future political contingencies in future, we would not even be speculating whether we
should change leadership in midstream now and go for early polls.
Thus, we are now faced with this task of finding an agreed procedure to change leadership to the satisfaction of all vested-interests in
Today’s situation shows the government and the NA Party do not have a good succession plan during critical incidents such as now.
By now, we should have stipulated constitutional provisions stating clearly and without ambiguity something to the effect that: should the
PM be indisposed from official duties for a consecutive period exceeding 90 days through ill-health or otherwise, then the acting PM
through NEC and parliament must without delay invoke relevant sections of the national constitution.
These provisional clauses should be both mandatory and legally be applicable here and in foreign jurisdictions.
What’s now happening was already set into motion some months ago when the PM was referred to a leadership tribunal.
This resulted in a fortnight suspension of the PM from official duties followed by a routine medical check up in an overseas medical
After the PM underwent medical operation, his post-operative recovery period has now extended well over three months due to some earlier
Latest reports say he is well and recovering.
But full recovery will take some appreciable period of time.
Hence, the uncertainties surrounding the overall health condition of Sir Michael Somare will no doubt continue.
In addition, the prolonged anticipated recovery period of the PM will undoubtedly prompt obvious questions being raised in parliament regarding the government’s leadership succession arrangements to be addressed in a timely manner.
PNG and parliament can not be held in suspense for obvious reasons.
Consequently, there has now been increasing calls from the parliamentary opposition party and speculations are now rife in media
commentaries of late to activate provisions of the country’s Constitution (Section 142, s5c).
This is to accurately determine Sir Michael Somare’s overall state of fitness to continue as the PM.
This clearly indicates the groundswell voice of reality by the citizenry in recent times.
Thus, the time is now ripe for parliament to elect a new PM using appropriate constitutional and legal means to effect a regime change
at this time.
Many Papua New Guineans also feel it is time for a new young captain at the ship’s helm.
Yes, it is a good idea for a fresh new competent leadership to take PNG to a whole new level that must go beyond the next election.
Moreover, the perceived political instability started some months ago was the government’s own doing.
The public is not really interested in the NA party’s dirty linen being aired in public.
They don’t care at all for it but do care if it’s done on the people’s time.
The prevailing situation could have been altogether averted had the PM not unduly changed his then competent deputy PM, Don Polye.
The member for Kandep’s total commitment to his party is unwavering.
Don’s loyalty is unquestioned and his actions proved this on many occasions.
When peers in more recent times have tried to distract his attention elsewhere, he was not easily swayed but remained fully focused on the
job at hand at all times.
But like former deputy PM, Sir Puka Temu, Don Polye also saw many serious deficiencies within his own party and the government machinery.
Perhaps it was his declared intention to clean up the mess left unaddressed since 2002 that may have alarmed those within the party
inner circle to see that Don did not rock the boat now during the terminal stages of the PM’s long reign.
Nevertheless, Don’s assertive nature as the deputy PM looked good to the citizens.
The people had hope that he would bring some good order and much credibility back into the government.
Whether the PM saw Don’s future plans to do some much-needed house-cleaning in government is a bad thing for PNG, so in his own
wisdom altered his senior status can only now be speculated upon.
PM Somare knew fully well that his decision to replace Don Polye was fundamentally wrong when he was the Highland’s deputy party leader; but went ahead anyway.
This has had a far-reaching implication in government as well as create deep rift among the Engan MPs.
This deliberate act has not given positive outcomes but only created more confusion, distrust within government ranks and unnecessary
So there may not be any compelling reasons to go for early polls before 2012.
Firstly, there is no constitutional avenue to do this and secondly, the NEC itself will for obvious reasons, not recommend that option to
the Governor General to dissolve parliament now and go for early polls.
Let’s now look at the options available for PNG.
Option one: Maintain the status quo.
This will confirm Sam Abal as the PM as he is not doing too bad a job.
An experienced former bureaucrat, level-headed and is a cool guy under pressure.
But Sam needs to further fine-tune his team as the last reshuffle has some flaws about it.
Under Sam, the government must immediately lift its game to improve the quality of life of the people.
Option two: A ‘vote of no-confidence’ motion.
This has failed a few times due to ineffective strategies to garner majority support.
The opposition still does not have the required numbers and its agreed choice of an alternative PM is not generally supported.
The majority of MPs would want to serve under a credible leader who will make a real difference in the short time that parliament has before the polls.
Option three: the credibility of the regime leaves a lot to be desired.
There are many good quality MPs in both the opposition and middle benches who can still offer much to greatly enhance government’s performance levels.
Hence, it is a good idea for a grand coalition of a ‘unity government’ to take PNG on a path of righteousness in future.
With the acting PM under pressure from within his own party, the opposition and middle-benches must offer its full support to Sam Abal for a grand coalition to work for the good of PNG.
Good governance, rule of law and a strong anti-corruption action is the way to go in 2011 and beyond.
Option four: An ‘absolute majority’.
Should a grand coalition be rejected than parliament should now be working hard to form an ‘absolute majority’ by building coalitions numbers within itself.
This may be possible by grouping together all like-minded government front and back-benchers, middle-benches along with opposition MPs to form a ‘unity government’.
The whole aim here is to ensure that parliament and government actually practices good governance, accountability, transparency and the rule of law at all times now and in future.
A credible and a strong leader with a caring heart and a champion of the people must be elected as the PM now.
There are many good reasons why PM Somare should be allowed to retire in dignity.
The grand old man has achieved many things in politics and has nothing more to prove now.
Sir Michael Somare should be allowed to fully recover in his own time with his family; and with no undue stress from official duties.
It is now time for a new era of good leadership for PNG.
The way forward now is for parliament to elect a new prime minister using what best option it sees fit in the national interest.
Parliament must be given three credible nominees for a prime minister candidate to be elected ‘at this time’.
After much in-deep analysis, the following recommendations to parliament for the next new prime minister in 2011 are as follows: for
the government, acting PM, Sam Abal; for the opposition, Sir Puka Temu and Governor Powes Parkop for both options three and four above.
In the final analysis, I see all three men as good capable and humble leaders representing PNG at best.
But if for some reason parliament wants to see a real difference in the way PNG is governed than I appeal to all MPs now to set their
personal prejudices aside, and elect Governor Powes Parkop as the next new prime minister for PNG in 2011.
Powes Pakop has empathy, humility and humbleness who will lead PNG well.
He has a real kind heart and spirit for people and has credibly proven his genuine leadership qualities as governor NCD against many
Parkop is a man of few words like Sam Abal and Sir Puka Temu but a good decent man of action to see the better side of tomorrow who
will give real hope to our people in future.
In the past few years, many Papua New Guineans have now seen Powes Parkop as a capable leader who has greater potential to lead the nation to the path of prosperity now and in future.
I call on every Papua New Guinean to give their full support for Powes Parkop to be elected the next new prime minister for PNG now.
· The author is a former senior PNG Defence Force officer and now a part-time social commentator and community advocate.