By JEFFREY ELAPA THE leadership crisis in the ruling National Alliance has deepened with a caucus meeting last weekend confirming Kandep MP Don Polye as deputy leader highlands, The National reports.
The meeting in Goroka, which did not have a quorum, chose to ignore the election to that post of Sam Abal, the acting prime minister and Wabag MP, by 11 parliamentarians in a meeting in Port Moresby two weeks ago.
The decision to elect Abal followed his suspension for two months by the party executives for making decisions deemed to be not in the best interest of the party.
Abal and some of the parliamentarians were not at Goroka for last week's meeting which confirmed Polye, who Abal had earlier this year sacked as foreign affairs minister, as the parliamentary deputy leader of NA highlands.
However, national party president Simon Kaiwi said the Goroka meeting was called by the current deputy leader (Polye) and conducted according to the party constitution.
But, he said, there was no quorum as three of the parliamentary members were away overseas and two, including Abal, were absent. Abal was at his village to attend his brother's funeral.
Kaiwi said although there was no quorum, the meeting recognised Polye as the deputy leader while Abal remained as deputy prime minister and acting prime minister.
He said Abal was not the deputy leader of the party and had no say on any party issue because he was on suspension.
Kaiwi said the charges against Abal would be determined by the party's national executives at their meeting in Banz this weekend.
He said Abal's election in Port Moresby was null and void because his appointment was unconstitutional in that he did not have any powers under the party constitution to call such a meeting.
"Abal is the deputy prime minister and acting prime minister and not a deputy parliamentary leader of the NA highlands caucus,'' he said.
"The party has suspended him and he remains suspended as member of the NA party before he appears before the national executives later for creating divisions within the party."
Polye said he was still the deputy leader and had the support of the party executives and five members of parliament.
The party caucus meeting had been postponed to a later date and would be called by Polye as deputy party leader.
Meanwhile, Abal claimed yesterday he was the party deputy leader after his election by the parliamentary wing of the party in a Port Moresby meeting he organised.
He said honest leadership was needed by the people, referring to the party leadership issue getting much publicity.
He said his main concern was to protect what was in the best interest of the country.
Abal said with the LNG project envisaged to generate revenue in the millions by 2014, honest leadership and stability in government were vital.
"Since 2002, NA has proved to be a stable government and has attracted multi-billion-dollar investors like ExxonMobil,'' he said.
"That stability must continue and I thank God for the Grand Chief who appointed me as acting prime minister for this nation," Abal said.
He said there was a lot of politicking, even within his NA party, by those who wanted to confuse the people and tarnish his name.
He said there were power-hungry people trying to create instability and "plunder the till" for the elections.