Renegades lose jobs in cabinet

Main Stories, National

The National, Monday 30th July 2012

CARETAKER Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has decommissioned his deputy Belden Namah and three other ministers in his caretaker cabinet who are in the Kokopo camp.
Decommissioned also are National Planning and Rural Development Minister Sam Basil and Health Minister Jamie Maxtone-Graham who are members of Namah’s PNG Party and Attorney-General Dr Allan Marat who is leader of the two-member Melanesian Liberal Party.
O’Neill made no official announcement but the move followed the group’s aggressive position against their own government. The prime minister will will announce his position today.
This is the latest move as the clock winds down to the formation of government.
It is expected Governor-General Sir Michael Ogio will invite a party to form government shortly after he receives the writs on Wednesday. The ninth parliament will sit within seven days pf the return of writs.
With 26 of the 111 seats yet to be declared, the PNC-led coalition in Alotau controlled all the numbers, claiming more than 60 members in camp in Alotau and predicting a rise to 80 after declarations are made in the remaining seats.
This is more than the 56-member required to form government.
The PNG Party’s Kokopo camp acknowledged it did not have the numbers but was confident over the weekend that numbers would flow its way from the Alotau camp and from those yet to be declared.
Sources within the Namah camp said there were so far 10 members in the camp and expected a few more this week as the horse-trading continued.
O’Neill, who led the coalition partners to Alotau before flying back to Port Moresby to gather some more members, said there were 26 PNC-endorsed members returned and several independents and those from smaller parties were joining up
O’Neill also said several independent members had signed up with PNC and smaller party members made a commitment to support the party.
They were Richard Maru, the member for Yangoru-Saussia, Lae MP Loujaya Toni, Central Governor Kila Hoada, Telefomin MP Solan Mirisim and new Kerema MP Richard Mendani.
Toni was endorsed by the People’s Indigenous Party and Mendani by the Country Party.
There were seven independent members in the Alotau camp out of the nine who won seats throughout PNG.
O’Neill said he had also welcomed members of the United Resources Party who joined the camp yesterday. They included Usino-Bundi MP Anton Yagama, member for South Bougainville Steven Kamma and Menyamya MP Benjamin Philip.
Party leaders seen flying to Alotau with O’Neill last Friday were Our Development Party leader Sir Puka Temu, Patrick Pruiatch of the National Alliance, PPP’s Sir Julius Chan, Social Democratic Party leader Powes Parkop, People’s United Assembly’s Anderson Agiru and Rimbink Pato from the United Party. Senior members of T.H.E Party, People’s Party, People Democratic Party and other independent members also flew out with O’Neill.
Meanwhile, as the horse trading continued, one of the regarded fathers of the nation and former prime minister Sir Julius was coincidently seen boarding a commercial flight to Kokopo and to Kavieng yesterday with Namah and his group.
Accompanying Namah were PNG Party members Francis Potape (Komo-Margarima) and Talasea MP Francis Marus.