IPATAS SECRETLY ASSISTED STUDENT BOYCOTT HOPING TO STAND IN FOR A DEPOSED PETER O'NEILL:

NIUGINI OUTLOOK

When a student from the National Polytechnic Institute in Lae messaged us some weeks back about a surprise visit of Peter Ipatas to their school to speak to students, something about the story did not add up. It was not that we ended up doubting the informant. We finally were able to cross check what they told us. Instead it was some Ipatas actions that got us thinking.

When he visited the Polytech, we were told that he carried a large bundle of O'Neill advertisements that had come out in the newspapers, where the PM lamely explained why he was not stepping down (those arguments were mostly delegitimised within days by the facts). He left the bundle behind, but did not seem all that interested in distributing them and many of them were left to turn into rubbish. On top of that Ipatas did not give the students the expected strong pro-O'Neill speech. Instead he told the students that they were adults and he could not tell them what to think or do regarding the boycott. On that trip to Lae, he followed his visit to Polytech with a secret meeting with Unitech Engan students brought out of campus for the purpose. Again he did not strongly tell them to end the boycott.

This is not to say that Mr Ipatas wasn't acting as the PM's ambassador to PNG's colleges and universities. It is to say that he did not strongly endorse the Prime Minister's entitlement to remain in power. That in itself is signficant.

Then came the even odder affair where he delivered scholarship monies on later visits to PNG colleges and universities. This went 180 degrees from his earlier statements that scholarship monies would be withheld and withdrawn from any students who continued to boycott. The tool that had been used as a threatened punishment now seemed to be turning into a reward!

What we have learnt since strongly suggests that the good governor of Enga Province remains the same kind of lizard that turns colours that he has always been. This kind of lizard has infested the House of Parliament for many years. Were talking about lizard MPs that say one thing then do the opposite, that make pledges of support for other MPs while sharpening their knives to stap their "friend" in the back at the earliest possible convenience.

The growing reports and information now strongly suggest that Peter Ipatas has been secretly working behind the scenes to assist the student boycott against Peter O'Neill to succeed.

Why would such a loyal PNC MP be pulling such a trick? It is no secret that Peter Ipatas has aspired to become Prime Minister for many years. Through the student boycott, he had a special opportunity to make his dream come true.

On one hand, Peter Ipatas could continue his long standing work to convince Peter O'Neill that he was a trusty soul. The other hand could work to undermine the Prime Minister. If the Prime Minister ended up being forced to step down, who might O'Neill hand the reigns of power to? None other than Peter Ipatas!

We now know that on 4th June Ipatas organized a meeting with the UPNG students at his Bluff Inn motel outside of Port Moresby. Head of the National Youth Commission Norit Luio provided the logistical support necessary. SRC President of UPNG, Mr Kenneth Rapa was of course present. Rapa is from the Apulin tribe, as is Peter Ipatas.

What was discussed were strategies by which the UPNG SRC could succeed with their boycott in getting O'Neill deposed and it involved steadily escalating protests.

It is believed that Ipatas has been secretly funding the UPNG SRC operations. How ironic that when Peter O'Neill accused other politicians of funding the SRC operations to mount the boycott against him that Gary Juffa thought he was the one being accused and angrily defended himself. No, it was another PNC party member who was involved.

Ipatas has already made it known to the Prime Minister that, in fact, the PM handing over power to Ipatas is the best way for Peter O'Neill to protect his long term objective of a permanent dictatorship for PNG. Behind closed doors, Ipatas has voiced support for the kind of "guided democracy" in which elections and everything else are illusions that seem to exist but never seem to allow the people to replace their leaders. Ipatas believes in dictatorship rule for PNG but was hoping that the one man O'Neill dictatorship could be turned into an oligarchy where a small group of top mafia leaders would run PNG and be able to drink from the national treasury at will.

Ipatas was hoping that UPNG SRC President Rapa could influence the other SRCs to come on board. There is no evidence at this time that Ipatas gave any significant money to Engan groups at other universities to help support the boycott. Only to the UPNG SRC. For the other universities and colleges he relied on the soft pedal talk and payment of scholarships to communicate to Engan students that he wasn't against them continuing the boycott.

That SRC President Kenneth Rapa himself has political aspirations for 2017 became apparent several weeks ago on the social media when very blatant campaign style posters appeared by 'supporters'. These disappeared after critical comments were made that the student movement should be for pure objectives and not for self promotion or politicization.

The plan was mostly aborted after police fired at the UPNG students and broke up their planned march to Parliament. It now seems even more probable that the orders to shoot came straight from Peter O'Neill. Obviously, if O'Neill thought he was in any danger of losing power, his best bet might be to turn over power to Ipatas to be the stand-in Prime Minister. However, the best bet of all for Peter O'Neill was simply to stay in power and not step down. Firing the bullets into the students achieved his objective by destroying the Ipatas plan for UPNG's small marches to grow into more organised larger marches, that started involving the NGO groups, includig Engan NGO leader Noah Anjo. A very large people power march ultimately could result in the kind of protest that brought down PM Julius Chan in 1997.

Engan Isaac Lupari is in the middle ground of all this. He is very close to both Ipatas and Peter O'Neill. He was appointed by Ipatas to be chairman for Enga Children's Fund (name now changed to Ipatas Foundation) and retains this position to the present. Lupari collects significant side money for his pockets through this job.

Lupari is especially indebted to Ipatas because he got the job at a time when Lupari was not in any postion of power and influence. At that time he was wandering the halls of Waigani looking for 'consultant' opportunities to make money enough to fuel his gambling addiction. Ipatas and Lupari's tribes are neighbors within the wabag electorate as yet another connection between the two personalities.

Only 2 days ago, Isaac Lupari significantly helped Ipatas at the meeting he called with all PNG university representatives. He did not argue for strong government intervention in the boycotts which remain strong at both UPNG and Unitech despite the administrations attempts to resume teaching. Lupari left the VCs to their own devices in dealing with an issue which so far both VCs have failed to control.

Ipatas expected a win-win result from all this, all the wins being collected by himself. He wins even if he failed to help O'Neill's overthrow because the investment was relatively small and he remains an exceptionally powerful PNG politician and someone on whom Peter O'Neill counts on to retain his own power. Of course the win would have been much bigger, if he had succeeded in helping Kenneth Rapa bring down the Prime Minister, while simultaneously making a deal with the PM to temporarily hand over power to Ipatas. Would Ipatas give back the power later, after Peter O'Neill's continuing efforts corruptly cleared him of all the allegations (even though he committed the crimes? Very doubtful, because the power of the PM would still have to come into bear to ensure that the courts and police remained sufficiently paralysed.

In all this, Isaac Lupari also has a win-win expectation. He would rather that Ipatas be his boss because of the wantok connections, but thus far Peter O'Neill has been sufficient. Lupari's main concern all along was to avoid prosecution for this K3.7 million theft from the Department of Finance in coordination with Paul Paraka. Peter O'Neill is keeping Lupari (and Paraka to some extent) free by not actioning the Commission of Inquiry's findings on up to K780 million theft from the Department of Finance over about 10 years. Ipatas would continue the protection of Lupari by suppressing the Commission of Inquiry report. No matter who he ends up serving, Isaac Lupari will never pay for his crime by serving prison time.

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