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Shock Pangu Pati split. What happens now?

| Academia Nomad

Allan Bird and James Marape (Radio New Zealand)
Likely challenger Allan Bird and troubled prime minister James Marape. Bird is the highly respected Governor of East Sepik Province (Radio New Zealand)

PORT MORESBY - Pangu Pati, the leading coalition partner in the current Papua New Guinea government, has split.

My test for a successful change in government in PNG is when there is a significant split within the biggest coalition party.

Currently Pangu has 59 MPs, about half of the seats in parliament.

Now Pangu has spilt, what happens next?

The deputy speaker has instructed the opposition to submit a notice for a vote of no confidence.

The first step for the opposition is to decide on a candidate for prime minister by Tuesday.

When parliament meets on Tuesday, the opposition will submit the no confidence notice against prime minister James Marape.

The notice must include the name of the alternate prime minister, a reason why the vote is of national interest and it must be signed by 10% of the 118 MPs in parliament. Which would be 12.

The parliament business committee will meet at lunchtime on Wednesday to review the notice. Their sole responsibility is to ensure the notice meets all the technical requirements.

On Thursday, parliament will be informed of the notice as the first order of business. Then it will adjourn for a week.

By Thursday 4 June, a new prime minister could be in place if the opposition is successful.

The process may not be straightforward.

The government-dominated business committee might delay meeting.

Or the government could persuade an MP who signed the notice to switch sides, invalidating any motion. This has happened before.

If the government changes, the new prime minister will have an 18-month grace period, starting on 4 June, before a further no confidence motion is possible.

But if Marape retains his position, he will not be protected by a grace period, allowing the opposition to mount repeated votes of no confidence.

The period between now and 4 June is long, and in PNG politics many unforeseen events can occur. Thus, predicting an outcome is highly uncertain.

A change in prime minister is needed given the chaotic rule of Marape.

But will the next prime minister be any better?

The answer lies in who that person will be.

It seems that the next prime minister’s must be Allan Bird for there to be any hope of real change.


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