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Turmoil in PNG as Somare deputy defects

Could this be the end for Michael Somare?

AAP IS REPORTING that Michael Somare is facing a party leadership challenge tomorrow – and that he will not contest it.

Rival bids by Transport Minister Don Polye and Deputy Prime Minister Puka Temu to lead the ruling National Alliance are being discussed at a party meeting today, and Mr Somare's spokeswoman says he is unlikely to fight them.

"He's the one who's introduced democracy to PNG so I think he'll go with what other members of his party want," the spokeswoman said.

"He's not putting up a particular person at this stage. He'll just support the party."

For most of this year the Opposition, headed by Mekere Morauta, has been running a campaign urging disgruntled parliamentarians to leave a government marred by numerous allegations of corruption and mismanagement.

Earlier this month, the Opposition began counting numbers for a vote of no confidence in the government that's expected to be launched when Parliament resumes tomorrow.

Sir Michael, 74, has often indicated this will be his last term in office, and his spokeswoman said he was planning to retire at the next elections in 2012.

"He's just been in politics for too long ... 42 years," she said.

Spotter: Colin Huggins


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Reginald Renagi

In this morning's news bulletin, Puka Temu has stated what the public has known for a very long time.

He said it is time for Prime Minister Somare to relinquish the PM's position as his mind is not as sharp as it used to be. He has also created a lot of disharmony within the NA Party and the coalition.

Somare was previously thrown out of his other party for this sort of shenanigans. But it seems he has not learnt his lesson well and will relive it by paying a high price this time.

Yes, it does look like the end of the road for the Chief. But don't hold your breath as the old maestro has been known to pull a rabbit out of the hat before, and could come up with a trump card at the last minute.

Reginald Renagi

The Deputy Prime Minister Dr Puka Temu should have thrown down the gauntlet by first asking PM Somare for a change of leadership of the NA Party. If Somare refused him then he should have subsequently directly made a leadership challenge for the PM's position.

Puka Temu seems to have jumped ship too early by siding with the opposition group and other unhappy MPs who defected from the coalition and the middle benches.

The opposition camped last weekend at the March Girl's Resort at Gaire village beach just 30 minutes drive outside Mosbi.

This put him outside the decision-making loop and does not look good for Puka Temu. A further risk now is Deputy NA party leader from the highlands, Don Poye, who also directly made a leadership challenge to Somare.

PM Somare intends to make a reshuffle this morning amidst a lot of political confusion. Don Polye has many highlands MPs on his side, so if the numbers go his way than Puka will miss out for the PM's job, and will be in opposition until the next elections in 2012.

But it is still too early to confirm numbers yet and anything can happen today. It can go either way for the two former deputies: Puka and Don.

Reginald Renagi

This has happened because PM Somare recklessly ran PNG affairs like his family business. He has for a long time been a liability to both the NA party as well as the government.

The Chief of late has not properly governed our country in a participatory way with all coalition partners, so it is time PNG's leadership changed.


The ABC is reporting that Puka Temu and other Minsters have defected to the Opposition this afternoon. There is also a protest march tomorrow planned by NGOs.

PNG ministers unite to topple Somare

By ABC PNG correspondent Liam Fox

Papua New Guinea's government is facing another threat to its survival, this time from the deputy prime minister, who has joined forces with opposition MPs.

PNG prime minister Sir Michael Somare was expected to face a challenge for the leadership of his party from transport minister Don Polye at a meeting today but another challenger has arisen.

While the meeting was underway, his deputy prime minister Puka Temu was holding discussions with opposition MPs at a resort outside Port Moresby.

Several other government ministers were there with him.

Together they have resolved to move a motion of no confidence against Sir Michael when parliament resumes tomorrow.

If that happens, a vote can take place in a week's time.

The new group say they have the numbers to win a vote and form a new government.

NGOs in Papua New Guinea intend marching despite police ban

Radio New Zealand

In the Papua New Guinea capital, Port Moresby, marchers calling for a change of government intend going ahead with a march tomorrow despite police opposition.

A coalition of NGOs plans to mark the opening of Parliament by voicing anger at Government actions.

It comes as factions within the Government push for Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare to stand down, while the Opposition is planning a vote of no confidence.

The Police Commissioner, Gari Baki, says he won’t allow a march, saying his priority’s public safety.

But Effrey Dademo of Act Now says they want a say in the formation of a new government.

She says they want to register their dissatisfaction with recent controversial laws, such as the environmental amendments.

“That’s an issue that they are trying to put on the forefront and make sure whoever forms this next government must know that people are saying that those kind of laws, including changes to the Organic Law on the Leadership Code - these are also looked into.”

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