Eight EHP MPs with O’Neill, says Atiyafa


THE eight Eastern Highlands MPs remains united with Prime Minister Peter O’Neill in the event of no-confidence vote, says Henganofi MP Robert Atiyafa.
He told a press conference in Goroka that despite the defection of Eastern Highlands Governor Peter Numu to the Opposition, MPs of Obura-Wonenara, Kainantu, Henganofi, Lufa, Goroka, Okapa, Daulo and Ungai-Bena were with the O’Neill Government.
Numu, in response, said former Eastern Highlands premier Atiyafa never cooperated with him and past governors.
He challenged Atiyafa to contest against him in the 2022 national election.
Atiyafa crticised last week’s Opposition rally at the National Park to inform people of the reasons for Numu crossing the floor.
“The concern is the issue that was raised at the rally,” he said.
“Any issues of grave concern can be discussed at the provincial assembly and Parliament.
“If the rally was to talk about vote of no-confidence, are the 600,000 people of Eastern Highlands going to vote for the Prime Minister?”
Atiyafa expressed disappointment that speakers at the rally spoke against Eastern Highlands MPs for being in Government.
He said when he was premier of Eastern Highlands from 1991 to 1997, he played host to prime ministers Paias Wingti, Sir Julius Chan, Sir Michael Somare and Sir Rabbie Namaliu.
“I had issues with them and thought they never helped us,” Atiyafa said.
“I was vocal that time, but these were issues for the province and the people and not personal.”
Atiyafa said when Prime Minister Peter O’Neill was in Goroka last month to open the new Goroka hospital, market and launch the K3 billion Highlands Highway rehabilitation, all eight MPs were present except Numu.
Numu yesterday called on Atiyafa not to politicise the governor’s seat.
“The vast majority of the people of Eastern Highlands voted for me to make tough decisions,” Numu said.
“Atiyafa did not perform well for the province when he was premier.
“I now invite him to vacate the Henganofi seat and contest against me in 2022 for the governor’s seat.
“Since the eight MPs are in Government, I challenge them to bring tangible economic projects to the people of Eastern Highlands.”