Speaker’s the key as parties jostle for position


ALL eyes will be on the speaker’s seat when parliament sits today for that is the key to the formation of the  new government of Papua New Guinea.
The business of electing a speaker is pivotal to every other ensuing parliamentary business, including the election of a prime minister.
And People’s National Congress grand coalition leader Peter O’Neill who has been invited to form the next government is keeping very close to his chest the identity of the next speaker of the house.
The one who will hold the speaker’s mace may have already been decided at the coalition camp in Alotau and more likely though, only O’Neill and a few close confidantes know who it will be.
All through yesterday, it remained a closely guarded secret.
And the same is happening in the Kokopo camp.
Till today, it is still unknown who is their candidate for the speaker’s chair.
As it is, speculation continues to get free play about the next steps in the formation of the government.
As of last night, 105 members out of the 111-seat parliament had been declared.
Out of the 105 seats declared, only 99 writs have been returned to the governor-general.
That leaves only six seats remaining to be declared.
Speaker candidates after the 2012 general election were Finschaffen MP Theo Zurenuoc and Talasea MP Francis Marus and the former won by an overwhelming majority of 88 to 17.
Both men have since lost their seats.
In 2012, PNC was also invited to form the government, having won the highest number (27) of elected members.
PNC nominated 89 candidates for the 2012 general election.
This time round, it fielded 95 candidates and so far have won 27 seats.
O’Neill was elected prime minister with a vote of 94 to 12 against Belden Namah. Five MPs crossed the floor from Namah’s group.
There will be political marriage and divorce, few will walk away shaking their heads while the voters will also want their elected members to listen to them.
Some of them, a few months ago were fighting each other tooth and nail and calling each other names.
We all desire to turn over a new leaf with this parliament but we simply cannot forget what has happened in the past.
That’s PNG politics for you and this process will be repeated today.
At this stage, we cannot say how things will turn out.
If there are plans with different factions in the two camps, it will only be known on the floor of parliament.
Some say, in politics, nothing happens by accident.
If it happens, you can bet it was planned that way.
Only 43 of the 111 members of parliament elected in 2012 retained their seats.
The 43, and a few former MPs re-elected, know the game well.
The saying from Winston Churchill sums it up well: “Politics is almost as exciting as war, and quite as dangerous. In war you can only be killed once, but in politics many times.”
Whatever happens today, the rule of law is there to safeguard everyone – respect for institutions and systems and the processes.

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