Potape stripped

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PRIME Minister Sir Michael Somare has removed Komo-Margarima MP Francis Potape as minister for climate change amid signs all may not be well in government.
In a week of drama involving the United Resources Party, a major coalition partner in government, it has emerged that the prime minister decided to relieve Potape of the climate change portfolio, and also the function of minister for state assisting the prime minister in LNG matters.
Potape has been made minister without portfolio, but will assist the prime minister in matters relating to the functions of climate change, state protocol and ceremonies, parliamentary services and MTDGs.
The prime minister’s decision appeared in the National Gazette No.G208 published last Tuesday.
The URP is embroiled in a drama which threatened to tear the party apart, with its leader and Petroleum and Energy Minister William Duma refusing to recognise five new MPs from the opposition who joined the party.
Potape and Southern Highlands Governor Anderson Agiru called a press conference last Thursday to welcome the five MPs. But Duma walked into the conference and told them they could not join the party without following the legal process.
Duma, Agiru and Potape could not be reached for comments yesterday.
But sources said political forces were at play, and were using individuals in the URP to achieve their goals.
“The political situation is still fluid.
“We have a parliament sitting coming up in November in which anything can happen.
“The prime ninister is not safe until January next year, so there could be a lot of posturing for positions,” a source said.
Another source said certain politicians wanted to see Deputy Prime Minister Don Polye and Duma removed by the prime minister, and were pushing Agiru and the URP.
“Agiru is a staunch supporter of the prime minister and the government, but is being pushed into a corner,” the source said.
The source said these politicians pushing Agiru and the URP wanted the deputy prime minister’s position and the finance and treasury portfolio.
Polye refused to comment.
He said he was committed to the prime minister and the National Alliance party, and cabinet positions were the prerogative of the prime minister.