The National – Thursday, December 9, 2010
By JEFFREY ELAPA
NATIONAL Alliance deputy leader Don Polye claims he is still deputy prime minister, brushing aside media speculations that he was demoted in a snap reshuffle among the NA ranks of cabinet on Tuesday.
NA national secretary Joyce Grant added weight when she went on radio last night to deny that there was a reshuffle, saying Polye was still deputy prime minister and also transport and works minister.
Polye told The National yesterday that he had not received instruments from Governor-General Sir Paulias Matane, who was holidaying in Rabaul, East New Britain, to effect the change.
Government House officials, who were in Rabaul to witness Madang Governor Sir Arnold Amet sworn in as attorney-general and justice minister, said Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare had verbally confirmed Abal as the new deputy prime minister, replacing Polye.
This confirmed that although the instruments for the change in the deputy prime minister and other cabinet ministers had not been signed by Sir Paulias, the prime minister indicated that he would sign instruments for the reshuffle by the end of this week.
This had been confirmed independently by a third source.
Polye, who had to cut short his electorate duties to return to Port Moresby, said he was addressed as “deputy prime minister” when he met with Sir Michael yesterday morning.
“I believe I am still the deputy prime minister and deputy party leader,” he added.
However, sources said Sir Michael was just being diplomatic until the instruments for the changes were signed for gazettal.
According to political observers, the prime minister’s move came at a time when a notice was issued to him by the public prosecutor advising him of his referral to a leadership tribunal within three days.
Abal could not be reached for comments as he had returned to Sydney for today’s closing of a three-day mining and petroleum conference.