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Concern over O’Neill's reappointment of sidelined ministers

William Duma & Fabian Pok - with the election over, stood aside ministers resurface

MEDIA ROOM | Transparency International PNG

PORT MORESBY - Transparency International PNG has grave concerns about prime minister Peter O’Neill’s commitment to integrity, given recent remarks justifying his dramatic change of mind in making two key ministerial reappointments,

These effectively acting against his own earlier decision which, in accordance with principles of good governance, was to protect the investigation into the K46 million Manumanu land deal by sidelining William Duma and Fabian Pok until such time as it had been completed.

Last Tuesday, responding to questions in parliament by Peter Isoaimo, Member for Kairuku Hiri, and James Donald, Member for North Fly, the prime minister is reported to have justified his controversial decision to re-appoint Mr Duma and Dr Pok to ministerial portfolios.

“We will address the issues that may come to light at the end of the enquiry,” Mr O’Neill said. “It’s no point me pre-empt [sic] the outcomes of the enquiry under our jurisdiction, the members should know all citizens are innocent until proven guilty.”

This is a direct contradiction of the prime minister’s statement to the media in February of this year when he said Mr Duma and Dr Pok “will step aside from their ministerial responsibilities pending the conclusion and outcomes of the Commission of Inquiry [now an administrative inquiry].”

Furthermore, Mr O’Neill said that, “It is now clear that these agencies of government have not worked together in a coordinated way to facilitate the implementation of the 2012 government NEC decision.

“The acquisition of this land has been done in clear violation of the government’s decision and resulted in K78.4 million being paid.”

In a media statement, Lawrence Stephens, chairman of Transparency International PNG, said “Papua New Guineans know that if a minister is being investigated he or she must step down to preserve the integrity of the office they hold.

“The PM must follow through his earlier commitment to integrity and revoke the appointments of Duma and Pok until the administrative inquiry into the Manumanu land deal is completed and the results made public.”

Mr. Stephens also observed that the members of parliament and media must be commended for reminding the prime minister of his commitment to integrity and protecting the course of justice.


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