By ISAAC NICHOLAS
A MAJOR coalition partner in the previous government has crossed the floor to merge with Deputy Prime Minister Belden Namah’s PNG Party, The National reports.
The move by the People’s Action Party cedes to the government party leader and Maprik MP Gabriel Kapris, Ambunti-Drekikir MP Tony Aimo, Middle Ramu MP Ben Semri and Koroba-Lake Kopiago MP John Kekeno.
This swells Namah’s PNG Party numbers to 21, making it the second biggest group in the government after Don Polye’s National Alliance.
The PAP MPs were welcomed by PNG Party members including Namah, founder Sir Mekere Morauta, Sam Basil, Jamie Maxtone-Graham, Wake Goi, Peter Iwei and Anthony Nene.
Kapris said the PAP was a small party that had a proud record in forming two previous governments after elections in 2002 and 2007.
“We are a very solid team that believes in loyalty and stability.
“PAP is a party that has to be recognised and our joining the PNG Party is not a mistake,” he said.
Kapris said the party had met with Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare to let him know that they would be joining the PNG Party under the leadership of Namah.
He said another reason was that the PAP had initiated many projects under the former government and would like to support those development projects by being in government.
“We have created more impact projects and we want those to continue.
“We do not believe in a witch-hunt so let’s support good projects,” Kapris said.
Aimo said another reason for the party’s move was that PAP leaders did not want the people of East Sepik marginalised.
“The respect for Grand Chief Sir Michael still remains but the people of East Sepik must not be marginalised,” he said.
Sir Mekere described their move as “heroic and not selfish but made in the interest of the people of PNG”.
He said said the country needed fewer political parties that were well run and managed for stability.
Namah congratulated the MPs for leaving aside their political aspirations and differences to forge a partnership that would strengthen and stabilise politics.
Namah said the decision was reached after long negotiations with PAP and the amalgamation of the two political parties was not easy.