The National – Wednesday, December 8, 2010
By JEFFREY ELAPA and ISAAC NICHOLAS
PRIME Minister Sir Michael has made a snap cabinet reshuffle, replacing his deputy Don Polye and decommissioning two other ministers.
The changes, within portfolios held by his National Alliance party, were made yesterday and widely reported by the national radio, although there had been no official confirmation from the prime minister’s office. New faces in cabinet were Madang Governor Sir Arnold Amet and United Resources Party stalwart Puri Ruing (Dei MP).
The reshuffle came hours after Sir Michael gave a keynote address at the mining and petroleum conference in Sydney, Australia, cancelled his onward trip to Cancun, Mexico, for the UN climate change conference and returned to Port Moresby with Foreign Affairs Minister Sam Abal, whom he had elevated as the new deputy prime minister.
It followed a minor reshuffle last month in which Ialibu-Pangia MP Peter O’Neill was appointed Finance and Treasury Minister and brought back Esa’ala MP Moses Maladina as public service minister.
According to sources last night, confirming the radio reports, the reshuffle affected Polye, who is now foreign affairs minister; Ano Pala, who is agriculture and livestock minister; and Mark Maipakai, who is now industrial relations minister.
Dropped from cabinet were Bogia MP John Hickey, who lost his agriculture and livestock portfolio and Mul-Baiyer MP Sani Rambi, who lost his internal security ministry.
New ministers Sir Arnold takes charge of justice and attorney-general while Ruing takes over internal security.
While the changes had all been done within National Alliance, the URP was the only coalition partner allocated an extra ministry.
Governor-General Sir Paulias Matane, who was on holiday in his village, signed the instruments yesterday to effect the reshuffle.
Polye, when contacted in his Kandep electorate yesterday, said he was not aware of the reshuffle.
He declined to comment further.
The prime minister’s media liaison officer, Betha Somare, said she was unable to reach Sir Michael from Sydney yesterday and, therefore, could not comment on the reshuffle.
The NA was meeting in Port Moresby yesterday but no details were available.
Earlier in the day, the prime minister’s office and NA had denied reports of an impending reshuffle.
NA spokesperson Joyce Grant said: “That is the prerogative of the prime minister to reshuffle the cabinet.
“The prime minister has been talking of reshuffling cabinet for a long time now and, when that happens, it happens.”
Meanwhile, government sources said on Monday that a special NEC meeting had appointed Paul Tiensten as acting governor-general while Sir Paulias was on holiday.
It was understood that the instruments to effect the appointment were yet to be made official.