By ISAAC NICHOLAS
PEOPLE’S Action Party (PAP) leader Gabriel Kapris has assured supporters that the PAP is intact and that he has the backing of all MPs to remain as party leader.
The Maprik MP and Minister for Commerce and Industry called The National from the Philippines yesterday to refute speculations of a looming leadership challenge in the PAP.
Mr Kapris is in the Philippines with senior Finance, Treasury, National Planning and Commerce and Industry officials to finalise an agreement with a Chinese contractor to draw down US$71 million (K193 million) for the Pacific Marine Industrial Zone in Madang.
“There is no justification for a leadership struggle. PAP has always been the stabilising factor in Government where we provide stability, transparency and good governance,” he said.
Mr Kapris said the PAP was the first to join hands with National Alliance (NA) after the 2002 elections to form government and repeated that after 2007.
He said the impending reshuffle was the prerogative of Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare but coalition party leaders have given their views during the meeting with Sir Michael last week.
“Prime Minister Sir Michael called the coalition party leaders who were given the opportunity to give their views and the Prime Minister said he was happy with the performance of the coalition partners.
“We raised the issue that the time is not right for the reshuffle. If we rock the boat now, it will be difficult to sail through to the 2012 national elections.
“I don’t think the reshuffle will have a lot of effect on the coalition partners. We are getting nationwide support from people who want to be part of the PAP’s 2012 national elections campaign.”
Mr Kapris said this was the first time that the Government had gone right down to the rural majority in allocating funds through the district service improvement programme (DSIP).
“We have so much money now to deliver much needed services to our people and there is no time for politicking.”
Mr Kapris said no party officials had been left out as only last Friday he held meetings with the PAP executives including the president and general secretary to advise them that this was not the right time to destabilise the good work of the party.
“Those with political ambitions must not use the party name but go out and win elections and then play politics,” he added.