PRIME Minister Sir Michael Somare will replace the three ministers who walked out of his government today, when he announces a reshuffle of his cabinet, The National reports.
Works, Transport and Civil Aviation Minister Don Polye was most likely to be appointed deputy prime minister.
The prime minister was expected to announce the reshuffle yesterday afternoon, but decided to defer it to today.
Insiders said because the political situation was very fluid, the prime minister was holding off a reshuffle and announcing a new deputy prime minister for “a few more hours”.
Sir Michael, who is leader of NA, told more than 50 supporters and coalition partners in front of the PNGIPA Hall that the party constitution was very clear that the three ministers – Deputy Prime Minister Sir Puka Temu, Forest Minister Belden Namah and Culture and Tourism Minister Charles Abel – moved out on their own accord.
“According to party systems, the three ministers have made their intentions known and, virtually, sacked themselves.”
Sir Michael, in a move to keep the NA party intact, also touched on the leadership issue that was now confronting the party, saying his time as leader of the party was nearing an end.
He said the constitution was explicit that no party leader could lead NA after two terms at the helm, claming that he would not be seeking re-election.
The prime minister said the party leadership issue would be brought up at the NA party convention in Minj,
Some of the 32 NA members present included Attorney-General Ano Pala, Works Minister Don Polye, Education Minister James Marape, Internal Security Minister Sani Rambi, Public Enterprises Minister Arthur Somare, Wapenamanda MP Miki Kaeok, Tambul-Nebilyer MP Benjamin Poponawa, Foreign Affairs Minister Sam Abal, Planning Minister Paul Tiensten, East New Britain Governor Leo Dion, Labour Minister Mark Maipakai, East Sepik Governor Peter Wararu, Communication Minister Patrick Tammur and Bougainville MP Fidelis Semoso.
Party officials said the NA faction and its partners had a combined 62 MPs intact and would remain together to stop moves to remove the government.
Sir Michael was speaking to coalition partners who were all present to give their support including United Resource Party (URP) leaders William Duma and Southern Highlands Governor Anderson Agiru, Pangu’s Andrew Kumbakor and Francis Marus, People’s Action Party’s Gabriel Kapris, Ben Semri and Tony Aimo, People’s National Congress leader Peter O’Neill and the People’s Party led by Enga Governor Peter Ipatas.
National Party’s Joe Mek Teine, who was earlier with the March Girls camp, was also seen outside the IPA Hall last night.