Confusion over Hela leadership

The National, Wednesday July 6th, 2016

THE Hela provincial assembly has elected two acting governors in another day of drama and confusion.
Koroba-Lake Kopiago MP Philip Undialu was elected by his faction during the morning session and Komo-Margarima MP Francis Potape was elected by his faction in the afternoon.
Tari-Pori MP and Finance Minister James Marape blamed Potape and his faction for causing chaos and confusion.
“Despite having two letters from the Minister for Inter-Government Relations (Sir Leo Dion) dated July 4, 2016, on who the assembly members are, Francis Potape’s section continues to cause confusion by bringing in purported members who are not members of the assembly,” Marape told The National from Tari yesterday.
“The last meeting was deferred to today (yesterday) because of rude behaviours by strangers who are not supposed to be in the assembly.
“We adjourned to today to seek out a name list of those who are constitute members of Hela provincial assembly.”
Marape said the list provided by Dion’s office specified who the members of the assembly were.
He said assembly clerk Watson Ebela read out who could come in, and that caused a commotion when the Potape faction tried to bring in the presidents of Hulia and Bosavi local level governments, which were still under dispute.
Marape said it was sad that Potape’s faction of five members then chose not to participate in the assembly despite notices from Ebela and Department of Provincial and Local Level Government that court orders had not been adhered to.
He said Ebela assembled members and called forth government business, and swore in Luke Pangoma as the Hulia LLG president, as well as voting in Undialu as acting governor.
“I appeal to Philip Undialu to call all Hela leaders together, forget about the bad events of the past and we work together for healing, reconciliation and unity,” Marape said.
“I commend the people for showing peace and harmony in these moment of vacancy (for acting governor), and now that it has been filled, let us all work together.”
However, Potape said the “official” assembly meeting took place at 2pm yesterday.
“The assembly was to have convened at 2pm but what happened is that, they (Undialu faction) went ahead with the clerk (Watson Ebela) as the chairman,” Potape said.
“At that meeting, they elected Undialu as acting governor and had him sworn in by a magistrate.”
Potape said the “official meeting” took place at 2pm under the chairmanship of deputy governor Thomas Potape “who has the full power to hold and call a meeting”.
“They had an assembly meeting with a quorum of five but we had 10 members present and I got nominated and elected by the provincial assembly and sworn in by a magistrate,” he said.
“Under the right pathway, I’m the acting governor of the province now.
“We will submit our assembly report to the Provincial Affairs Department and they will decide who did it the legitimate way.
We are looking forward to the Government of the day in recognising me as the legitimate acting governor.”
Deputy governor Thomas Potape accused Marape and Undialu of hijacking the election process.