Porgera, brutality & the theft of PNG's resources
Writers’ motives remain; but disruption is wreaking havoc

Outcome of challenge to O’Neill’s leadership too close to call

Peter O'Neill
Peter O'Neill's opponents say it's "time to stop the current leadership for the good of the nation"


NOOSA – At the weekend, even as Papua New Guinea’s deputy prime minister Charles Abel said the government’s support “remains solid”, a disparate alliance of opposition forces had achieved a narrow lead in the race to gain support to oust prime minister Peter O’Neill.

Journalist Johnny  Blades of Radio New Zealand reported opposition MPs as “quietly confident” that they had the momentum to remove O’Neill as his government “reels from a series of resignations”.

Blades said the opposition Laguna Hotel camp was offering an “open door” for any more government MPs who wished to join their bid to remove the prime minister.

And as more politicians joined the self-declared ‘Alternative Government’, they brought with them a litany of complaints about the capability of the O’Neill administration

"We have a government that is government by one man for one man, for his benefit and the benefit of his friends,” said former prime minister, Sir Mekere Morauta.

“The PNG that Michael Somare, Julius Chan, Paias Wingti, Rabbie Namaliu and others shaped has been changed profoundly and for worse in the last seven years by just one man.

“Papua New Guinea is sick and we get sicker if we don't change this man. We can fix it. We have the medicine."

Morobe governor Ginson Sinou said the country had not been managed well despite the vast mineral and forestry resources available. He said this was the time to stop the current leadership for the good of the nation.

Opposition leader Patrick Pruaitch said O’Neill had an “insatiable appetite towards funds and cash grabbing, which has been the source of discontentment among many of PNG’s most prominent and notable leaders over a significant period of time.

“Peter O’Neill’s full frontal and systemic reign of manipulation and deception has caught up with him and may well have significantly eroded the basis and foundation of any credibility and integrity once tied to the honourable seat of prime minister and the seat’s once honourable and trusted words and promises,” Pruaitch said.

Speaking on behalf of seven members of the Pangu Pati who defected to the opposition group, Central Governor Robert Agarobe said their stand was to change government leadership.

And Vanimo-Green MP, Belden Namah, said the camp now had two-thirds of PNG’s governors opposed to O’Neill’s leadership.

Kramer and Wouwou
Bryan Kramer MP and Governor Tony Wouwou - a sudden change of allegiance

All five MPs from Sandaun Province joined the camp at Port Moresby’s Laguna Hotel after Sandaun governor Tony Wouwou unexpectedly backflipped having earlier in the day declared he was a “diehard member” of O’Neill’s ruling People’s National Congress.

Meanwhile deputy prime minister Abel continued to crack hardy declaring, “We certainly take on board all those issues that were raised by our brothers.

“And I’m so thankful that the party and our prime minister have the understanding attitude that they have, we go forward together, we take on those issues, and as a team, we continue to respond to those issues.”

So, after a weekend which saw O’Neill’s opponents gain a narrow majority of MPs, the nation awaits a parliamentary vote of no confidence at some time in the next 1o days, perhaps even as early as tomorrow.

But with political loyalties in PNG notoriously fickle, this so far effective effort to change the country’s government - and perhaps its direction - probably still has a few twists and turns left in it, especially as the numbers on each side still remain so tight.


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Bev Henwood

Australia seems intent on ignoring this important moment for PNG. I will be glad to hear information from the horse's mouth, so to speak.

I wish for PNG a set of politicians with vision for the wonderful and unique country that you could be and that I could see coming as Independence approached back in the 70's.

Lindsay F Bond

RadioNZ reports Peter O'Neill as having said "illegal attempt to bring down a properly mandated government".
See: https://www.radionz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/388592/png-pm-stands-firm-against-efforts-to-remove-him

An appall of Peter, a fib at best, proper tis not.

Philip Fitzpatrick

I don't think I've ever seen a policy document from any of the parties in PNG over the last 40 years or so. The last one I saw was from Pangu around 1976.

Lots of thought bubbles but nothing concrete that anyone could nail their allegiance to. Without public allegiance what is a political party? A boys club maybe.

Then again, check out Clive Palmer's UAP website, the last time I looked the policy page is blank.

I suppose that's because we all know what his main policy is - get a conservative government elected, use the balance of power in the senate, dig up the rest of the Galilee Basin and make lots of money.

That's called making Australia great.

Bit like PNG politics.

Paul Oates

The essence of all this posturing may be hard to work out for those who look for healthy signs of an effectively operating Westminster government system (i.e. a pluralistic regime that has essentially two or more sides competing to form a majority that then becomes a government).

For those who know how PNG really works, the current fluidity is merely an escalation of traditional village politics, but on a much grander scale.

Perhaps this may be indicative of the genuine and evolving 'Melanesian Way' of governing PNG?

It does however seem to confirm the view that in order to achieve political power in PNG, the stated aims of those who seek to lead the nation, aren't prepared to clearly spell out in a manifesto, exactly how they will be held responsible and accountable to the people they seek to lead, if they are successful in obtaining power.

Political hyperbole is a poor but previously proven, nebulous substitute for subsequent accountability.

Some look 'across the pond' and wonder if the USA only really has two ends of one political continuum, who just take turns at the helm.

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