Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Lobby for vote

Notice to follow Governor General swear-in


LOBBYING for numbers was intensifying last night for a showdown in parliament today, when the opposition is expected to lodge the notice for a motion of no-confidence in the prime minister, The National reports.

The new-look opposition, buoyed by the arrival of former deputy prime minister Sir Puka Temu, and ministers Belden Namah and Charles Abel, is confident of getting the notice through today.

Sir Puka is happy with the group’s performance yesterday afternoon when parliament resumed, pinning Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare and Public Enterprises Minister Arthur Somare down on good governance and corruption issues.

The prime minister fought back with tenacity when answering questions, looking comfortable with the numbers on his side, although anything can happen in 24 hours.

The opposition will step up another gear today by pushing the notice of vote of no-confidence.

The first business when parliament resumes this morning will be the swearing in of the re-elected Governor-General Sir Paulias Matane.

Insiders told The National that straight after the swearing-in, the government will adjourn parliament until November.

The opposition expects this, and Sir Puka said he was confident they would secure the required minimum of 55 MPs to block an adjournment, and push through the notice for a no-confidence vote in the prime minister.

If the opposition succeeded in giving notice today, they will await the parliamentary committee led by the speaker to screen the motion to see whether it is of national interest or of a parochial nature.

The speaker would then make his ruling by Thursday and, if it is affirmative, parliament will adjourn for seven days and then resume for the vote.

Sir Puka, who was surrounded by 43 MPs including former ministers Namah and Abel, Morobe Governor Luther Wenge and opposition MPs Sir Mekere Morauta, Sir Julius Chan and Bart Philemon appealed to decent leaders in the government to move.

“I know they respect the Grand Chief that, because of him, we have come this far but the leaders must do the right thing and join us,” Sir Puka said.

“We have tested the numbers in parliament and we know that we will get the necessary numbers to vote out the prime minister,” he said after he moved to extend question time in parliament, which required a simple 55 majority, but he only mustered 43 MPs from the March Girls camp that stood up to be counted.

“We have tested the numbers and we will now put a strategy in place to remove this government.

“I demand you move to this side to support us to put a vote on the prime minister,” Sir Puka appealed the government side.

“I demand that the head of government should step aside. Why concentrate too much power on one man at IPBC and Treasury and Finance.”

He said the prime minister had served a long time and age had caught up with him, and the momentum to remove him is driven by young leaders.

Sir Puka also appealed to the speaker to ensure the motion goes through to parliament.

He said technical requirements for the notice of motion to go through would be strictly adhered to, given the experience by the opposition in the past and the government MPs now in opposition.

“We will comply with all the technicalities.

“Parliament is the people’s house. It is not the government house and not the speaker’s house. The speaker must maintain neutrality all the time,” Sir Puka said.

A government spokesman said last night that the government was talking with opposition groups to bring them over to fill the vacancies in cabinet.

The spokesman said they were making offers to the “original” opposition.


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