BELDEN NAMAH MP
VANIMO - As in the game of chess, Peter O'Neill’s assumption of power as Papua New Guinea prime minister was indeed truly remarkable because people like me made it possible.
While he did not take us to the moon it was still a remarkable ride. But two major losses he has suffered recently may perhaps lead to the beginning of his end game.
They are both of his own making.
First, by dragging his feet on an electronic election with the hope of influencing the outcome in 2017, O'Neill woke up when the election results started coming in to see his majority in parliament decline from 60 members to 23.
We saw, for the first time under his leadership, an unprecedented level of election-related violence in all the highlands provinces with very many deaths and millions of kina in loss and damage to property.
The election violence continues today in his own Southern Highlands capital, where he remains powerless to restore normalcy. In Mendi today, the entirety of business and government services either remain shut or badly affected.
Peter O'Neill has lost legitimacy and moral leadership in his inability to bring the Southern Highlands back to a normal state.
This failure exposes O'Neill’s character as a small boy who likes to deal with soft power by running to the courts to seek orders to protect his own skin but, when faced with real life-threatening situations such as the curtain of violence that has fallen over the Southern Highlands, he has been found wanting and to be inadequate.
I have dealt with civil conflicts in Bougainville and put my life on the line in the Sandline crisis. I can see a fake leader a mile away. These kind of leaders are dangerous and can take a whole country down.
The second mistake that has exposed O'Neill is his government’s decision to sell its shares in Oil Search at a loss.
This decision has exposed O'Neill as a liar and a cheat and confirms the fact that he cannot be trusted to deal with our resources.
From a traditional point of view, O'Neill does not own traditional land and wealth and will continue to short change resource owners and resource-rich provinces of their wealth in negotiation with multinational companies.
So Peter O'Neill has reached his end game with limited moves remaining. I urge our leaders to join me in removing him from office before he does serious and irreparable damage to Papua New Guinea.