A Kiap’s Chronicle: 10 – Incident at Obura
Two new books from the prolific keyboard of Marlene Potoura

Both sides shadow box as struggle for numbers continues in PNG

Belden Namah, Ben Micah & opposition MPs relax in Port MoresbyKEITH JACKSON

AS OPPOSITION members took a leisurely Sunday stroll through Port Moresby yesterday – almost as if they had nothing to lose except a few kilos – the O’Neill government was corralling its coalition MPs into camp at Alotau.

Here it was seeking to keep them out of harm’s way, also known as "inducements like money and ministries", as Finance Minister James Marape, who seems to know about such things, pointed out.

Along with Peter O'Neill, Marape is still expected to turn up some time for a discussion with anti-corruption police investigating the apparent payment of some $30 million of allegedly fraudulent legal bills to Paraka Lawyers.

But Marape had other matters on his mind yesterday. He felt able to claim the government had 91 of the 111 members of parliament on side for Friday's no confidence vote while smacking former senior minister Ben Micah for defecting to the opposition because he was "sulking" after his bid to be deputy prime minister was rejected.

One commentator in PNG Today had it that Micah – having made the leap - would want to be annointed opposition leader but, as of this morning, incumbent Don Polye was still in the job, perhaps considering whether stepping aside was a lousy idea with the most important office in the land maybe awaiting his arrival at the end of the week.

All colourful stuff from a colourful bunch of political folk.

As government MPs were loading themselves on to the Fokker to Alotau's Gurney airport yesterday morning, O’Neill told the assembled Port Moresby media: “This is not about a numbers game; we are going down there to discuss our work program for the next 12 months before the elections.”

And treasurer Patrick Pruaitch noted: “The National Alliance is all about stability and we believe in stability. We have seen what stability has done for the country.”

Pretty as a.....And if I believed those statements I'd also believe the two cute little beauties at right might just hurtle down the runway at Jacksons and fly down to Gurney by themselves.

The MPs will be back in Moresby on Wednesday. Then O'Neill, Marape and Pruaitch will need to hold them together for a mere 48 hours before Friday’s vote.

If, as PNG political pundits estimate, the opposition so far cannot claim more than 30 MPs then they’re about halfway to securing 56 – that magic number that will see them win the motion of no confidence, occupy the treasury benches and accept the ministerial guernseys being handed around.

A source told Radio New Zealand International that more MPs had defected on Saturday and the opposition is confident it will have 56 by Friday. (I'm glancing at those pigs again to see if wings are sprouting.)

Meanwhile, James Marape - relishing his moment in the spotlight - expressed disgust at the opposition’s move to seize power saying “whilst it is their democratic right, the unstable image of the country being portrayed continues to derail work and development and investment.”

In a burst of wishful thinking he called on “all political party leaders to come to the parliament with your numbers and to stop ringing my members offering inducements like money and ministries.”

As if.

Relaxing in Alotau before counting the numb... er... plansEchoing O'Neill, Marape claimed the Alotau camp, rather than being a high class prison facility (left) to stop possible defectors hopping on a plane back to Moresby, was providing “an opportunity for our members to take time to look at what we have achieved in the past years and what still needs to be done.”

He also elaborated upon the departure from the fold of Micah.

“Mr Micah's demands while in government were often unrealistic. This included the demand to be appointed as deputy prime minister. Ben Micah asked to be appointed as the deputy prime minister, and when this was refused he went away sulking.

Then Marape, who clearly knows how to rub salt into wounds, proceeded to apply said NaCl with an angle grinder.

“Ben Micah does not have the stature, experience and respect required to be deputy prime minister.”

Now they tell him.


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Paul Oates

Ha! Bernard. What a good thing we aren't cynical?

Bernard Corden

The opposition and media were probably living it up at Airways

Paul Oates

So how come the opposition and the media aren't conducting a freedom of information exercise (read investigative journalism) about who is paying for this, er, 'get together' and what it is costing in accommodation and catering?

The accounts are surely of interest to the public especially as the public purse is so depleted at the moment.

Terry Shelley

What should be realised is that whatever these 111 so-called leaders decide along with the 80,000 plus public servants is totally irelevant to the daily struggle of 90% of the population of PNG.

Bernard Corden

I have no doubt they stayed at the Driftwood resort and a copy of their expenses would open a few eyes

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