Sunday, July 18, 2010

"You picked a fine time to leave me, National Alliance"

It’s the only game in town.  It’s hot media topic right now making front page news. The political punters are betting on one of two outcomes when parliament sits this week: who is going to be the next PM or will it be Somare again.

But I am quietly confident that it's not time yet for PM Somare's swansong to be playing in the background. Or it could well be Kenny Roger's song: you picked a fine time to leave me, NA ... being hummed along the corridors of the Haus Tambaran, this week.

 Already there is excited talk in the streets of 'Mosbi' (Port Moresby). In the suburbs and settlements, street-bookies may already be making a wager or two with 'wantoks'.

 This is done in ways not to risk unnecessary altercations within one's own close-knit regional groupings that makes up our diverse social strata of the capital. Care is taken here as one never knows who one is talking to and whether that particular person is a Somare supporter, or not.  

 The media has speculated for over a week.  It's now public knowledge that the Sir Mekere-led opposition party intends to move a vote of no-confidence motion in this week's parliamentary session. Their aim: to remove Somare as PM.

 This will be a difficult task and recent changes in the OLIPAC law will not make it any easier. Many political variables still remains that even those thinking of crossing the floor are still not sure of whether it's the right thing to do at this stage.

 Politics in PNG is always fluid and is a numbers game, among other factors. And Sir Mekere knows very well that he is up against a tough veteran opponent who knows how to play the numbers' game better than anyone past or present, except perhaps Sir Julius; as the other maestro.  So far, the astute New Ireland Governor knows a thing or two about PM Somare that the young guns today do not know in parliament.

 Sir Julius was Somare's first Treasurer and later PNG's second PM.

 In PNG today, whilst important; party policies is a secondary matter.  Those who will be enticed or seduced will already have a weakness the behind-the-scenes facilitator (a shadow Mr. Fix-it) will work hard on.

Among other incentives, the carrot to attract weak-willed MPs will be a cash gifts or promises of certain Ministries if one is to vote for, against or abstain from  a vote of no-confidence motion in parliament. This is regardless whether that particular MP has the required qualifications or not.  

 So in order to beat Somare, Mekere must have the required numbers by this week before parliament sits.  If he fails here, then his chances of removing a recently-perceived dictator would not happen. 

 The people will also miss an ideal opportunity to put someone to properly run this government for the next two years.  This is important. 

 For now, the opposition has made a bold move by publicly inviting other MPs to join them to "remove Somare...” 

It seeks like-minded MPs within the coalition and middle-benches unhappy with Somare's leadership to defect for the planned 'no-confidence' motion vote in parliament. 

 The Grand Chief is not leaving politics as yet.  This may only further frustrate his inner party circle that he has once again misled his party, the nation by delaying a long-awaited cabinet reshuffle (and quiting politics).

 On the other hand, many NA insiders have long secretly fear that the PM may do something very stupid that could seriously threaten NA party's internal stability now that the pressure is on for his job. Many party members feel threatened that in a 11th hour surprised move, Somare will forget the country's national interest and give the top job away to his own own son, and damn his party deputies. 

 This may not be possible under party constitution.  But there have been some media speculations a while back of amending certain provisions of the constitution that could facilitate this. If it happens, then it could be plain suicide for the man who has stayed too long in PNG politics.  The NA regional deputies will indeed challenge this and prompt a possible internal revolt, or simply dump Somare squarely by defecting to the other side.

This week, we will know whether PNG has a new PM (or government). But one thing is clear. Sir Mekere may not have the required numbers in the time available. The opposition has not even told the nation why they should be in government and what will it give PNG as the 'Alternative Government'.



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