The National , Wednesday, June 1, 2011
IN 2001, to prevent members of parliament from “party hopping” and pushing for votes of no-confidence, the Organic Law on Political Parties and Candidates (OLIPPAC) was introduced.
As a result, the Somare government became the first since independence to last a full five-year term.
It is highly unlikely the Somare-led government will hold on to power after the general election next year.
Seven months after being elected as prime minister on Aug 13, 2007, at the age of 71, Sir Michael Somare announced he would be stepping down as PM and ending his political career.
More recently, the prime minister has responded irately to moves within his party and in parliament to end his rule.
As in the 2002-07 parliament, the Somare government controlled parliamentary procedures by using its majority to overpower challenges by adjourning parliament.
A greater political stability has been the outcome of such tactics, but this has caused widespread complaints of “executive dominance” of parliament.
Since then, changes of the deputy prime minister have been frequent from 2002 until now.
But no attempt to groom a successor has been made.
It is often said Sir Michael would like his son – Angoram MP Arthur Somare – to succeed him.
However, the younger Somare has a leadership tribunal to face first before he can do that.
Since 2008, the Somare-led government has made good use of resources windfall to assist government MPs with electoral development funds worth K10 million each.
With little or no transparency in monitoring of the expenditure, the impacts in the rural settings are minimal.
The LNG project is due to commence production in 2014 and it has been predicted PNG’s GDP will double.
A justified resource management is much needed if the forecast benefits are to be distributed equally to the people of PNG.
To date, the returns from management of major development projects have been poor and service delivery in many areas has dropped.
We can expect to see growing unrest if the anticipated benefits are not delivered to landowners who
are surrounded by big resource projects.
With the above overview of political progress and economic projections of the LNG project, the 2012 general election is unpredictable.
With less than 12 months to go, the long absence of the prime minister from office has caused a lot of uncertainty and the opposition leader has insisted that the head of the state evoke relevant constitutional provisions to enable parliament to elect a new prime minister.
This will allow Sir Michael to have a proper rest and recover without work pressure.
On the other hand, members of parliament, including the speaker and some senior ministers, are missing or not punctual during the current parliament sitting.
Parliament is the highest office on the land where all decisions are debated and passed for the 6.5 million citizens of this nation.
However, since parliament has given the prime minister medical leave, many of the MPs, including senior ministers, seem to have forgotten their mandated role.
With the prime minister’s failure to groom a potential successor, who will lead the government into the general election next year?
What will the outcome be?
Who will succeed Sir Michael?
Who will lead NA in 2012?
These are very critical questions that demand answers.
The answers, unfortunately, are not hidden behind a complex mathematical computation.
In one of my previous letters to The National, I intentionally emphasised the importance of going back to the drawing board, which is the NA’s party constitution.
If Sir Michael’s failing may be due to oversight, the party constitution is not.
If the sensible NA MPs are not capable, let the party constitution be legally interpreted for everyone, including the public, to digest the underlying truth.
Though I am not a supporter, NA is the party that Papua New Guineans have left their faith in to lead this nation.
Thus far, PNG is optimistic that the prime minister will recover with God’s intervention and with peace of mind, will allow the party constitution to interpret itself in the appointment of a successor to lead
the party into the 2012 election.
If the prime minister bypasses the directives of the party, then disaster awaits the NA party.
People are watching the coalition partners and opposition closely as they attempt to seize opportunities created by NA.
Yanjop Siaa Kelya
Waikato, New Zealand