Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Temu, Namah, Abel walk out

DEPUTY Prime Minister Sir Puka Temu walked out of government yesterday, and has been offered the alternate prime ministership in a possible vote of no-confidence, The National reports.

Sir Puka walked out with Forest Minister Belden Namah and Culture and Tourism Minister Charles Abel, declaring they were fed up with too much power concentrated in the hands of the Somares.

Their group camped at the March Girls Resort outside Port Moresby. They were joined by the opposition.

A notice is expected to be given for a vote of no-confidence when parliament sits today.

In a day of dramatic political development, a National Alliance party caucus meeting scheduled for yesterday afternoon at the PNG Institute of Public Affairs did not go ahead as planned.

Learning of Sir Puka’s walkout, Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare met with his NA members and, later, the leaders of his coalition government.

He is expected to sack the three ministers and announce a cabinet reshuffle today.

Last night, the Somare camp at IPA claimed they had more than 60 MPs to starve off a challenge, while the March Girls camp said they were building enough numbers to successfully overthrow the prime minister.

Sir Puka, with the two ministers’ backing, also has the support from the opposition led by Sir Mekere Morauta, Sir Julius Chan and Bart Philemon, the Eastern bloc led by Chimbu Governor John Garia and the middle group led by Jamie Maxtone-Graham.

Namah, who is the power broker, has declared an all-out war to go in and form the next government by today.

Sir Puka declared that the move was to form a new government as of today and accepted the leaders’ support for his candidacy.

“I have accepted support to be candidate for the prime minister’s post; I accept it honourably and with solemnest,” he said.

“The reason why I moved out is because I believe this is the right thing to do in the current situation where the chief and his son control enormous level of policy decision and resources.

“I don’t think it is right to congregate power in the hands of two family members. Power must be shared, and that is why I took this bold step.”

Sir Puka said his group decided to join the call by the opposition and the people to hold hands together and change the government.

He said this was the right step, knowing full well the risks involved.

He assured the business sector that he would continue to give priority to the LNG project to ensure it crosses the line.

Sir Temu gave credit to Sir Michael for bringing the country from independence until now, but said the prime minister’s mind was not as sharp as before.

“I believe this is the time for the Grand Chief to step aside.”

He said with a young crop of leaders behind him, he believed what PNG needed right now was good, dedicated, honest and transparent leadership.

“If the government has the numbers, and we don’t have them, let it be so,” Sir Puka added.



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