Taking sides

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THERE will be changes to the seating arrangements in Parliament when it resumes today to accommodate MPs who have crossed the floor since the last session, says acting Clerk Kala Aufa.
The new seating arrangements for today’s session will be worked out by Speaker Job Pomat and Leader of Government Business Douglas Tomuriesa.
Sergeant-at-Arms Lalai Vali will give them a draft plan to work on.
“The Leader of Government Business and the Speaker will allocate the seats before 2pm. We should have a finalised list (by then),” he said.
When this edition went to press last night, the Government side claimed to have 59 MPs while the Opposition claimed to have 51. The winner of the Goroka Open is yet to be determined.
Late last night, Tari-Pori MP James Marape was named as the nominee for prime minister by the Opposition camp. He was the only nominee.
Forest Minister Douglas Tomuriesa who was appointed Leader of Government Business when Marape resigned from the Government, was seen back with members of the ruling People’s National Congress Party last night after joining Marape’s group last weekend.
Aufa warned people planning to come to Parliament today that there will be tight security provided by police who will put up the normal perimeter control.
“There should be some (tight) security arrangements around Parliament House for the duration of this session. The Speaker has given orders that only 200 people will be allowed into the public gallery, which is the capacity. After that, the gates will be locked.”
Police Commissioner Gari Baki has also increased the number of officers patrolling the streets of Port Moresby from today until parliament rises.
Aufa said it would be “normal business” in Parliament this afternoon.
If the motion of no confidence is filed by the Opposition, Aufa said the private business committee headed by Speaker Pomat would only allow it if all requirements were met.
The committee members are Deputy Speaker Jeffery Komal, Hela Governor Philip Undialu, Southern Highlands Governor William Powi and Ijivitari MP Richard Masere. There is a vacancy for one more.
They meet tomorrow to decide if motions for this session are in order. Any vote of no confidence motion given to the speaker must be signed by a mover, a seconder and supported by 11 MPs.
The speaker forwards the motion to the committee. If the committee accepts that the motion is in order, the clerk will be advised and it will appear on the notice paper the next day.
Aufa explained that if a vote is taken on a no-confidence motion, MPs would be asked to congregate on either side of the House before a head count is taken.