BY REGINALD RENAGI
FRANCIS HUALUPMOMI recently raised an interesting question in several media publications: “Who should succeed Grand Chief Somare?” The succession is open to any MP, and every parliamentarian should aspire to the lofty office of the prime minister given the right conditions in the term of a parliament.
On the other hand, this is also a good question the National Alliance Party and the coalition partners in the government should be answering at this juncture.
Today, PNG lacks competent political leadership. Since 2002 the government has failed to realistically address what is wrong. So far, the government’s overall performance has been very mediocre. I doubt it will improve before the country goes to the polls next year.
The government must immediately address the PNG leadership issue. Prime Minister Somare has been ill for some time now. A general assessment now is that, even if he does recover, he will not be in any fit state to continue as the prime minister.
Opposition leader, Belden Namah, was right to raise the matter in Parliament last Thursday, asking acting PM Sam Abal to invoke section 142, sub-section 5 (c) of the constitution. But acting Speaker Francis Maru disallowed this.
This immediately raises the next question, “Is there any credible leadership within the government to take over as prime minister?” In my view, not really, but there are some good prospects within the Opposition.
Many Papua New Guineans have great reservations in the government’s ability to fix issues of national importance before next year’s election. The NA also seems to have many ongoing in-house issues to ‘iron out’ in trying to competently lead a government coalition comprising many competing interests.
Whichever way one looks at the picture, the coalition parties are ‘guilty by association’ with the Speaker to consistently make parliament dysfunctional.
Since 2002, the speaker’s unprofessional conduct during numerous sessions has systematically not fairly allowed the Opposition to fully bring forward the concerns of our people, nor addressed them satisfactorily.
It is too late for this Somare government to improve upon its performance in the remaining months before the polls next year. The people must not vote it back in 2012.
Let us now look at the question Francis asked about who should succeed Somare. In general terms the answer is simple: a competent politician who has the national interest at heart.