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Taking the risk – the battle of PNG's political strategists

Pangu logoSYLVESTER GAWI | Graun Blong Mi (My Land) | Edited extracts

PORT MORESBY - Pangu Pati's move to join the Peoples National Congress (PNC)-led coalition under prime minister Peter O'Neill has spurred widespread criticism from its supporters nationwide.

Pangu leader Sam Basil had campaigned against the O'Neill government over the last five years with allegations of mismanaging the economy and a pending arrest warrant over the Parakagate saga.

While O'Neill may have welcomed the move to the government by Basil and 13 of his members, several PNC members and its coalition partners are fazed by Pangu's move.

Pangu is now the second biggest party in the government coalition and one minister has lost his job to accommodate Basil as a minister while two new vice-ministries have been created.

Do you think O'Neill is unaware of Pangu’s hidden motive? Do you think he would be kind enough to reward Pangu with a portfolio that will determine his own exit from parliament? Do you believe O'Neill when he mentions political stability when welcoming Pangu into government?

The United Resources Party (URP) under William Duma has four ministerial portfolios including police ministry and state enterprises. Duma has been implicated in the Manumanu land deal controversy and there has been massive criticism of the prime minister for Duma’s retention of the enterprises ministry.

PNC on the other hand won’t be too worried about losing URP. Pangu will maintain the numbers and balance within the government even if one or two smaller parties decide to defect.

Pangu strongholds (in particular Morobe) were vocal against the PNC-led government during the recent election campaign. Sitting PNC members were replaced by Pangu in almost all Morobe electorates.

For Pangu to go back to the PNC-led government contradicted what Pangu stood for in the elections - friends to all, enemies to one Peter O'Neill.

However it seems Pangu will continue to grow numbers over the next six months and might have a better chance of getting more independent and one-man party MPs to join it. That is a danger for PNC.

Was O'Neill clever to welcome Basil and Pangu into his government? Or did he make a mistake in allowing Pangu to join?

O'Neill made Basil a minister without portfolio, drawing massive criticism from the public. Was O'Neill showing his sarcasm in giving Basil such a vague role?

Pangu may have made the right choice to join the government. But it will take time and a lot of careful consideration for O'Neill to reward the party. Some decisions of revoking ministries won’t go down well with certain members, but it is in the best interest of Pangu for this to happen so Basil and his team can take control.

The outcome of this political marriage between PNC and Pangu will tell us who is the greatest political strategist in PNG's modern day political history.


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Philip Fitzpatrick

That's an interesting suggestion Sylvester.

That Sam Basil has a secret plan to infiltrate the government and then take it over. Presumably for the good of the PNG people?

We'll watch developments with interest.

William Dunlop


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