By JEFFREY ELAPA
THE People’s Party was formed by a group of Papua New Guineans who wanted to make a difference in the country’s leadership.
As such, the People’s Party plays a pivotal role in politics, governance and contributed immensely to the development of this country.
The party contested three National Elections (2007, 2012 and 2017), endorsed over 100 candidates and won 23 seats so far – four in 2007, six in 2012 and two in 2017.
People’s Party championed the free subsidized education policy in the country and produced a large numbers of human resources to support the development of the country.
The party continues to promote zero tolerance to corruption all sectors of the society especially the government systems to make sure that the basic services reach the majority of the rural population.
The party was put together by the like-minded Papua New Guineans that provide the political will to serve the majority of the rural people to access basic goods and services.
Founding members are citizens who occupy positions in various disciples in the public and private sector.
Some are now Members of Parliament while others include lawyer Loani Henao, late Utula Samana, Philemon Embel (former MP), businessmen Mark Yakka, late Yose Kome, Peter Iggy, and media personalities like Frank Senge Kolma, TV personality John Eggins and David Ericho.
The first foundation National Executives of Peoples Party were – Wera Mori (National President), Kolma (General Secretary), Yakka (Treasurer) and Davis Steven (Member).
These leaders then invited Enga Governor Sir Peter Ipatas, to become the first Parliamentary Leader.
Sir Peter was bestowed with the knighthood of British Empire for his service in politics and civil society by the Queen of England, brought with him three members of the 8th Parliament Dickson Maki (Kompiam-Ambum MP), Kapa Yakka (Laiagap- Pogera MP) and Samarai-Murua MP Gordon Wesley.
In the 2007 General Election, the People’s Party went into the election for the first time with the four (4) sitting members of Parliament under the Parliamentary leadership of Sir Peter Ipatas, (Enga), Gordon Wesley, (Samarai Murua), Kapa Yakka (Laiagap-Pogera) and Dickson Maki (Kompiam-Ambum).
The party endorsed over 60 candidates in the 2007 National Election and won four seats; Sir Peter (Enga), Wesley (Samarai Murua), Samson Kuli (Usino Bundi), late Sailon Besseo (Kainantu).
PNG Advance Party leader and Kompiam-Ambum MP John Pundari joined later with Dr Moses Manwau (Wewak MP) after he was declared winner in the court of Disputed Returns.
The National Alliance led government saw Peoples Party’s loyalty and rewarded the party with the Ministry for Mining in the later part of 2010.
The political impasse in November 2011 also affected the party as three of its MPs joined the opposing group while Pundari remained in the Somare-Abel Camp.
Sir Peter was in the United States when the impasse occurred to oust National Alliance led Government while Sir Michael was seeking medical attention in Singapore.
For the second time, the People’s Party went into the 2012 National Election with three sitting MPs (Ipatas, Pundari, Kuli) while late Besseo, Manwau and Wesley joined the Triumph Heritage Empowerment party and People National Congress respectively to contest the elections.
The party endorsed 56 candidates in the 2012 National Election and won six seats – Ipatas (Enga) Pundari (Kompiam-Ambum), new comers Robert Ganim (Wabag), Wesley Nukundj (Dei), Mogerema Sigo Wei (Karamui Nomane) and Davis Steven (Esa’ala).
PP then joined the current PNC led Government and was given two ministries – Environment & Conservation & Climate Change (Pundari) and Civil Aviation (Steven). The party was also given two vice ministers and a Parliamentary Committee Member (Sigo Wei – Agriculture, Nukundj – Climate Change and Ganim – Parliamentary Referrals Committee Chairman on Education).
In January 2013, the party announced a merger with PNC.
However, later that month, the Registrar of the Integrity of Political Parties and Candidates Commission stated that the requirements of the Organic Law on Political Parties & Candidates had not yet been met and that they were “still two different parties”.
During the election 2017, Sir Ipatas and the others contested under the PNC party banner and won their respective seats.
Party general-secretary Willie Palme managed to get Jiwaka Governor Dr William Tongamp as the party leader.
The young leader from Jiwaka took the party into the election with 35 endorsed candidates and won two seats – South Fly (James Donald) and himself.
Donald remained with the Opposition but has returned to his party after the change of the Prime Minister on May 30, this year.
In April, Sir Peter and Steven resigned from the People National Congress and re-joined their People’s Party.
Within a space of one week, the People’s Party rebuilt its parliamentary number to 13 when several other MPs join them.
On Friday, June 7, 2019, almost 13 years later, the party made record when one of the founding members, Davis Steven, was elevated to the post of Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister for Justice and Attorney-General.
Two other members were also awarded ministries – Jimi MP Wake Goi as Minister for Religion, Youth and Community Development and Wabag MP Dr Lino Tom as Minster for Fisheries and Marine Resources.
Other parliamentary members include: Anglimp South Waghi MP Joe Kuli, Middle Ramu MP Johnny Alonk, Kundiawa MP William Ongolo, Moresby North East MP John Kaupa, Lagaip-Porgera MP Tomait Kapili, Kerowagi MP Bari Palme and Kompiam-Ambum MP John Pundari.
By JEFFREY ELAPA