The National, Monday, June 6th 2011
By JEFFREY ELAPA
ACTING Prime Minister Sam Abal has finally flexed some muscle.
He is expected to announce today disciplinary actions he had taken against two ministers.
Government sources said last night that Abal last Friday signed instruments terminating ministers Don Polye (Foreign Affairs, Trade and Immigrations) and William Duma (Petroleum and Energy).
Reasons for the tough disciplinary actions were yet unknown but sources claimed last night that Polye, who is deputy leader of the National Alliance highlands faction, was cited for insubordination.
A tussle over the leadership of the faction had been brewing between Abal and Polye since the former was named deputy prime minister.
Duma is parliamentary leader of the Uni-ted Resources Party, the second largest party in the coalition government.
His sacking, it was understood, was in relation to concerns over his leadership of the liquefied natural gas (LNG) project and licencing issues within his department.
From another direction, a court decision on Public Enterprises Minister Arthur Somare’s long-running case has now paved the way for the appointment of a leadership tribunal (see story on Page 2).
Were this to happen, the ruling party would be rocked with the absence of the prime minister and the displacement of key ministers.
The highlands region has the biggest number of NA parliamentary members but sources said members from the region had been split with some showing support for Polye while others were behind the acting prime minister.
The sacking was an indication that a bulk of the highlands faction had finally shifted its allegiance towards Abal.
Over the past few months, the National Alliance was also split over the interim party leadership after a vacancy existed when party leader Sir Michael Somare underwent surgery in Singapore.
Sir Michael had undergone two operations in Singapore and had taken almost two months off from work, creating a vacancy in the party leadership which NA members had tried to elect a party leader but that did not eventuate as there was a split within the party.
Sir Michael is still in intensive care at the hospital.
Sources said Polye was also vying for the interim party leadership while Abal was said to be backed by other members of the party for the same post.
NA Momase deputy party leader Patrick Pruiatch is also vying for the party leadership and it is understood the southern and NGI factions may be supporting his candidacy.
However, sources said the leadership issue had not been resolved but the sacking of Polye was likely to create more disunity within the party with less than a year before the general election.
Duma and Polye could not be contacted last night.