Wednesday, July 14, 2010

National Alliance holds key

Opposition admits to lack of numbers


THE opposition admitted yesterday it does not have the numbers, and needs a faction of the National Alliance party splitting away to help it topple Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare, The National reports.

The opposition wanted to move a vote of no-confidence next Tuesday, when Parliament sits.

But political watchers said that was unlikely to happen until a few issues within NA were settled.

The prime minister also had a few aces up his sleeves which he had not played yet, one said.

Deputy opposition leader Bart Philemon told reporters yesterday they had only 21 MPs, and were talking to people within government and NA.

“We can’t change (the government) on our own. We need people on that side. We are talking to them. We have been talking to them for months now,” Philemon said.

He said whoever brought in the numbers would lead them.

A political observer told The National that the different factions within NA, especially those not happy with Sir Michael, would be reluctant to make their move now until the NA convention is held next month.

During that meeting, the party is expected to elect a person to succeed Sir Michael as parliamentary leader of the party.

“After this agenda is decided, many will decide whether it is worthwhile to hang around or move on. The real test of the solidarity of the party will come here, and key to all this is who takes over,” he said.

“So, if a vote is going to happen, and maybe succeed, it would have to be during the November session of parliament. The cracks in NA will become apparent then.”

He said the prime minister had aces up his sleeve he could play now, including reshuffling and expanding his cabinet.

There were talks of secret meetings over the weekend, in Port Moresby and Australia, where ministries were offered to a number

of people, including opposition MPs.

Mendi MP Pastor Isaac Joseph, an opposition MP who was allegedly offered a cabinet post, said he would remain in the opposition, and would not be bought by money, job offers or other promises.

Meanwhile, Unggai-Bena MP and Environment and Conservation Minister Benny Allan has denied claims of a political camp called the “Eastern bloc” in Goroka.

Allan said the report in the Post-Courier, naming him as being in the “Eastern bloc”, was not true.

“I was with Arthur Somare, Paul Tiensten and Sam Abal for the forum (in Alotau) and we all agreed that there was no need for a change of government.”

One government insider, who was on the flight from Goroka to Port Moresby on Monday morning, said Simbu Governor Fr John Garia and one of his henchman were on the flight to Port Moresby without any other MPs.

Allan described the article as a “cooked-up story” by Garia and the Post-Courier to mislead the public.

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