The National – Monday, July 4th 2011
WHO will be the next prime minister of PNG?
Will it be Sam Abal, Patrick Pruaitch, Belden Namah, Sir Puka Temu or Don Polye?
To answer the above question, let me bring to light some of qualities of the leaders.
Sam Abal: He has shown some good qualities in his capacity as acting prime minister. However, he let himself down by sacking two senior and influential ministers and by removing the performing Peter O’Neill from the finance and treasury ministry. This has raised doubts as to whether his decisions are with long-term consideration in mind or not. Many people believe the latter. His other problem is he is not a regional NA leader which disqualifies him from contesting the NA party leadership.
Patrick Pruaitch: He has some good qualities but has been implicated a number of times. This may become a problem with his credibility if the were to become the prime minister. However, in PNG, this may not be a problem if he plays his political cards right. He is obviously a potential contender for the NA party leadership that may eventually lead to his contention for the prime minister’s post.
Belden Namah: He is an upcoming leader but as PNG sees, he is not ready yet for the top post.
Sir Puka Temu: He has good qualities but does he have a game plan to go all the way? It all comes down to how the opposition can organise itself. With hardened leaders like Sir Julius Chan, Sir Mekere Morauta and Bart Philemon, a good game plan can be put in place to nominate somebody for the top post. A strong contender.
Don Polye: Where does he come in? He was and is one of the strongest architects and pillars of NA and the current government. He is the leader of the powerful NA highlands bloc. He was a former deputy prime minister and acting prime minister on several occasions and held two senior ministerial positions. If the Highlands bloc maintains its solidarity and nominates him as a contender for the NA leadership, the chances are that he may walk away it. He is a strong contender for the prime minister’s post.
Having named the above potential candidates, there is another potential candidate in the background.
He is Arthur Somare.
He has learned the ropes from his father, Sir Michael Somare.
He has the experience, knowledge, skills and the all-important surname.
He knows the political games, plans and manipulations.
Obviously, he will not stand aside for Pruaitch, Polye or other NA deputy leaders to take over the party leadership.
Once thing is almost certain –
the NA highlands bloc will be split over Abal and Polye.
Once that happens, NA Momase will urgently meet and replace Pruaitch with Somare.
Once that has been done, the younger Somare will become a serious contender for the NA leadership.
When it comes to the top job, NA Momase will want to keep a stranglehold of power.
And to maintain continuity of power, Pruaitch will cede to Somare at the right time.
If the NA highlands faction comes to a compromise with Abal and Polye patching up, the centre of power may swing to this region.
As per my judgment, Polye stands a better chance than Abal.
But at the end of the day, if things do not work out for Polye, I have a strong gut feeling that Polye may shift alliance and team up with Duma and join the opposition where his chances of landing the top job is better.
As I see it, the most probable candidate for the top post will go to the younger Somare if Abal and Polye do not compromise.
However, if Polye shifts alliance this will have a huge impact on the government’s numerical strength and the opposition will come in for serious contention for the position of prime minister.