NOOSA - Contrary to what Belden Namah’s opposition planned when it rushed to remote Vanimo to plot the downfall of prime minister Marape last Friday, its failure to grasp the nuances of parliamentary procedure were disastrous.
The opposition and defectors sat stranded in Vanimo unaware that Papua New Guinea’s parliament had not been effectively adjourned.
So when parliament resumed yesterday under Marape's control, it passed the budget and adjourned to 20 April next year - five months away - with the opposition benches largely vacant.
The prime minister and his most loyal supporters were intact in parliament and Namah and his defectors were in tatters in Vanimo.
Except it seems for Namah’s co-conspirator Peter O’Neill who was still in Port Moresby, a minority of one unsuccessfully seeking intervention by the courts to try to save the day.
Namah, O’Neill and others who had prematurely jumped ship had been comprehensively caught out by Marape and Speaker Job Pomat, who – after reviewing his standing orders - ruled that parliament had not been adjourned correctly last Friday and so would resume yesterday afternoon.
When it did, the Opposition benches were largely empty.
It seems Namah and his cohorts did not fully understand the state of parliament when, seizing a temporary majority, they had suspended proceedings on Friday and flown to Vanimo with their supporters to lock them into ‘camp’.
By late yesterday morning it was clear that the Namah-O’Neill challenge to hijack the government was stalling.
Meanwhile a number of influential figures had returned, perhaps somewhat sheepishly, to Marape’s side and by day’s end it was estimated that the government had 57 MPs, just over a majority.
The superior tactics of Marape and Pomat has won them five months of clear air before parliament resumes and a vote of no confidence is possible.
Although, after the events of the last few days, that VONC may well be aimed at the opposition.
Parliament has adjourned to 20 April 2021.
When last observed, most of the opposition were still in Vanimo.