Marape throws down gauntlet

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TARI-Pori MP James Marape, pictured, is challenging Prime Minister Peter O’Neill to put the leadership of the People’s National Congress Party “on the table” at tomorrow’s caucus meeting.
The former finance minister said the caucus should decide whether the party should have a new leader.
Marape who resigned from Cabinet early this month is yet to formally resign from the ruling party. But he will hand in his resignation letter if the party leadership is not dealt with appropriately at the caucus meeting tomorrow.
Efforts to get a comment from O’Neill yesterday were unsuccessful. But he had said earlier that while Marape’s resignation was “unfortunate”, “Government wok must go yet” (Government must continue to work). Marape was yesterday with Manus Governor Charlie Benjamin and Okapa MP Saki Soloma who also announced their resignation from the party.
They join five MPs who resigned last week – Enga Governor Sir Peter Ipatas, Esa’ala MP Davis Steven, Southern Highlands Governor William Powi, Hela Governor Philip Undialu and Komo-Margarima MP Manasseh Makiba.
Marape said the best way forward for O’Neill and the party was to “place the party leadership on the table” and let the caucus make a decision on it. “It is painful because O’Neill is from a province I call a sister province,” he said.
“But the call for leadership is not tribal. The call for national leadership transcends tribal boundaries.
“National leadership is about uniting the country and not dividing it. National unity is about sharing the wealth of the country to all corners of the land and not to one or two areas only which has been happening for the last seven years.
“National unity is about respecting different layers of leadership including ministers, governors and members of parliament.”
Marape said national leadership was also about honouring words “as our Melanesian ancestors have for years”.
“Public policies and discussions on the country belongs to all leaders and all sectors of the country. If O’Neill does not put the PNC party leadership on the table, then I will formally hand in my resignation letter.”
Parliament resumes sitting next Tuesday.