PRIME Minister Sir Michael Somare has deferred any changes to the Cabinet until after the National Executive Council meeting in West New Britain province in two weeks time.
The Prime Minister was expected to make a decision yesterday, but sources close to the veteran politician said he had decided to defer any changes.
Since it became clear last week, following a front page story by The National that changes to the Cabinet were imminent, there has been intensive lobbying and jostling by various groups within the Government.
The New Guinea Islands, Highlands and Momase factions of the National Alliance party made their case for change, or no change, to the Prime Minister.
So did leaders of political parties in Government like People’s Action Party, Pangu Pati, the People’s National Congress and United Resources Party.
Southern Highlands MPs led by Governor Anderson Agiru met with the Prime Minister and gave their backing for ministers involved in the successful negotiation for the PNG LNG project.
Sources said the SHP MPs told the Prime Minister that these ministers had done well, and should continue to maintain their positions in Cabinet and support the project as it was still in its early development stage.
The ministers directly involved in the PNG LNG project included Treasurer Patrick Pruaitch, Petroleum and Energy Minister William Duma, Planning Minister Paul Tiensten, Public Enterprises Minister Arthur Somare and Public Services Minister Peter O’Neill.
At least three of them were named as likely to be affected in the reshuffle.
Works, Transport, and Civil Aviation Minister Don Polye met with the Prime Minister during the day yesterday.
Mr Polye was reportedly unhappy about the changes Sir Michael was proposing, and made his views known during the meeting.
Mr Polye recently regained leadership of the NA Highlands bloc from Education Minister James Marape, but sources say he will be affected by the change.
The Prime Minister met leaders of his coalition Government last Wednesday and informed them he intended to make changes to his Cabinet.
During a gathering in Port Moresby yesterday, he said the Cabinet reshuffle was long overdue and one that was needed to drive the Government’s long term vision and growth strategy.
But that will not happen for another two weeks, and according to another source, “may not happen at all”.