Cabinet reshuffle cancelled


A RESHUFFLE of ministerial portfolios between Attorney-General and Justice Minister Davis Steven and Inter-Government Relations Minister Pila Niningi was cancelled last week, it has been revealed.
Deputy Prime Minister Steven and Niningi both referred queries on the matter to Prime Minister James Marape who they said had the “prerogative” to make or revoke appointments as he wished.
A copy of the National Gazette No G256, dated May 12, 2020, from Government House advised the public that the determination of titles and responsibilities of ministers published in the National Gazette No. 253 dated May 11 had been cancelled.
National Gazette No. 253 stated that Steven would no longer be Minister for Justice and Attorney-General but to take over Niningi’s portfolio while remaining as deputy prime minister.
Niningi was to become Minister for Justice and Attorney-General.
But this was cancelled with both ministers continuing in their current portfolios.
Marape could not be reached for a comment yesterday.
But Leader of Government Business and Finance Minister Rainbo Paita told The National yesterday that Marape decided who held which portfolio. Steven told EMTV News (the audio of the interview was shared with The National) that Marape had the prerogative to appoint and revoke appointments.
“It is the absolute prerogative of the prime minister, and that we must acknowledge,” he said.
“It is a decision that a prime minister makes, and any prime minister must be allowed to express that decision wherever he sees fit.”
On the portfolios he currently holds, Steven said there were “a lot of good lawyers” in Cabinet which Marape could pick from.
“He could choose someone from among us,” he said.
Niningi told The National that he could not comment on the matter as the decision was made by Marape. “As to why it was so, you will have to ask the prime minister,” he said. “I have a lot of respect for the deputy prime minister.”