By ISAAC NICHOLAS
THE National Alliance Party (NA) leadership has nullified its East New Britain (ENB) branch’s decision to sack National Planning Minister Paul Tiensten as a member.
News of Mr Tiensten’s sacking had senior ministers, including Treasury and Finance Patrick Pruaitch, Public Enterprise Arthur Somare and others in “damage control” mode caused by media reports last week.
NA leader and Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare was in Angoram and could not be reached for comments but he has been briefed on the regional leadership tussle and an impending vote of no-confidence against
Sir Michael has not made his stand since the issue of the deputy leadership surfaced the end of last year.
Mr Tiensten is believed to have also decided to relinquish the deputy leadership and to have written a letter to that effect to the national leadership.
National branch president Simon Kaiwi has not made an official statement but executives said the ENB branch used a wrong section of the party constitution to dump the Pomio MP and NA’s deputy leader for the New Guinea Islands region.
The national executives said the provincial branch invoked a section of the constitution that was reserved only for the National Executive Branch.
“Section 17 does not give Party Branch such powers to sack a MP. I can assure you that he has not been sacked,” said NA national secretary Joyce Grant said.
The executives were also shocked by the news reports of the sacking and have been scrambling all day trying to neutralise a politically dangerous situation.
“It is an internal party matter released to the media but the people have expressed their opinion and it is up to the party now to deal with it.
“They have voiced their opinion and we have taken note.
“At the end of the day, NA is a big party and we must try to manage the issues,” the executives said.
They said provisions of the constitution were reserved for the national party branch at its disposal but “it is the last resort all other options have failed in taking action against an MP”.
“Ultimately the national office has the final say.
“The matter is an internal regional issue which the party will be dealing with.”
However, sources said a regional power struggle had been brewing and a vote of no-confidence on the leadership has been called for Jan 16.