By YEHIURA HRIEHWAZI
THE National Alliance party has commenced the process of identifying potential candidates to take over parliamentary leadership of the party in August next year, according to party secretary Joyce Grant.
The caucus meeting for the ruling party is scheduled this year for Minj, Western Highlands province, on Aug 11-15.
One of the main agenda items for the caucus meeting was the election of parliamentary leader of the party, Ms Grant said.
The new leader would take over party matters while the incumbent and Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare, is expected to continue as PM until 2012, when he is expected to retire.
But a challenge to the provisions of the Organic Law on Integrity of Political Parties and Candidates (OLIPAC) could throw the spanner in the works of these plans by NA.
Arguments for and against the constitutionality of OLIPAC have been completed in the Supreme Court last week, and a decision is pending.
If it rules in favour of petitioner Dr Bob Danaya before Parliament sits next month, this would create a mad scramble for power, horse-trading and a vote of no-confidence in the Prime Minister.
NA is quietly hoping that the Supreme Court rules against the petitioner.
If it rules that OLIPAC is unconstitutional, it hopes that ruling will be done a little later in the year; on or about September when the government is protected again from a vote of no-confidence 18 months prior to issue of writs for the next general elections.
Ms Grant said she was pushing ahead to help the party machinery with its preparations for pre-elections and election of a new party leader and eventual prime minister after the 2012 general elections.
She confirmed that the Prime Minister would relinquish the position of parliamentary leader of NA and hand it over to the next leader to take the party into the elections while he remained as PM.
She could not speculate on the next successor of NA leadership except to say that every member of the party had the right to contest.
The members knew among themselves and the deputy leaders from the four regions (Highlands – Don Polye, NGI – Paul Tiensten, Southern – Sir Puka Temu and Mamose – Patrick Pruaitch) who should take the reign and lead the party into elections in 2012.
Come Aug 11-15, she said the people would have a clearer picture of who the next leader would be.
However The National understands that Mr Tiensten’s leadership tussle with his NGI bloc does not put him in good stead while Mr Pruaitch’s referral to Chief Justice for a leadership tribunal to hear misconduct charges against him may affect his chances of moving higher up the party’s leadership rungs.
If Mr Pruaitch does not make it as a deputy leader to the party convention in August, the Mamose party machinery will mount pressure on either the State Enterprises Minister Arthur Somare, East Sepik Governor Peter Waranaka or Nawaeb MP Mr Timothy Bonga to step forward.
Ms Grant said that she expected a crowd of about 50,000 people to gather at Minj for the convention as it would be an historical gathering after the National Alliance Party spearheaded the creation of the Jiwaka province, which is home-soil of NA presi-dent Simon Kaiwi, who is expected to contest the next election to become the founding governor of Jiwaka.