FROM PUPPET MASTER TO PUPPET - Part 1
On Tuesday, 59 Members left in O'Neill Abel Government avoided facing vote of no confidence against their Prime Minister Peter O'Neill by a further 3 weeks.
They achieved this by firstly moving a motion to remove Governor of Southern Highlands Province William Powi and Governor for Hela Philip Undialu from the Parliament Committee that is charged with screening the notice of motions of no confidence.
Member for Mul-Bayier Koi Trappe and Member for Henganofi Open Robert Atiyafa were appointed and both are members of O'Neill's PNC Party and considered loyalist to O'Neill.
This is so they can prevent the notice of motion being submitted by the Alternative Government EVER being accepted and tabled in Parliament.
Second motion moved was to defer Parliament by 3 weeks to 28 May 2019.
Newly appointed Minister for Government Business, Member for Gumie, Nick Kuman announced that it was because of the mass resignation from NEC and Government needed time to appoint new Ministers.
Of course this was a complete lie and nothing but a scheme to defer Parliament Committee from meeting the next day and tabling the notice of motion submitted by the Alternative Government. Parliament Committee can only meet when Parliament is in session. The next likely opportunity will be on Wednesday, 29th May 2019.
Why only three weeks deferral (delay) and not three months?
Well, coalition members of O'Neill-Abel Government, the likes of Chan's PPP, Duma's URP ,and Basil's Melanesian Alliance Party now hold the balance of power (in that they have the required number of members in their party to join the Alternative Government and can make a play for the Prime Minister's post.
They have no interest in deferring Parliament any further, 3 weeks being sufficient time to organise themselves and find the funds to negotiate with the Alternative Government to offer them the Prime Minister's post.
As far as they are concerned it's all over for O'Neill as he has become irrelevant.
Information coming out of the Government ranks allege that O'Neill was forced to ask his associates to fund his coalition parties to keep their Members from crossing to join the Laguna Camp. An allegation I'm currently looking into to establish if there is any truth to it.
Right now, 59 Government Coalition Party numbers are as follows:
O'Neill's PNC Party (27) was 46,
Sam Basil's Melanesian Alliance Party (9) was 15,
William Duma's URP Party (11),
Julius Chan's PPP Party (5),
Powes Parkop's SDP Party (2) was 3,
Paias Wingti's PDM Party 1,
Rimbink Pato's Party (1),
Peter Yama's PLP Party (1),
Chris Haiveta's PNG Country Party (1) was 2.
Alternative Government stands at 50 strong - our numbers were tested on the floor of Parliament and confirmed. We need just 6 more Members from Government's 59 side to join the Laguna Camp for us to take control of the floor of Parliament, block any further adjournments, vote in a new speaker, a new committee, followed by a new Prime Minister.
However, the same can't be said about O'Neill Government numbers. His coalition parties are making a play for the Prime Minister's post including his Deputy PM.
1) Julius Chan (5)
2) William Duma (11)
3) Sam Basil (9)
4) Charles Abel Deputy Prime Minister PNC (who only need 6 from 26 PNC Members)
You are probably wondering but Chan has only 5 Members, correct, however, he has the support of his old school colleagues in the likes of Wingti, Pato, Yama and Michael Nali who is currently a member of PNC.
Nali was former PPP man and even the Party's leader in 2002 after Chan was unseated following 1997 and 2002 elections. When Bill Skate sacked his Deputy Prime Minister Chris Haiveta in 1998, following the release of Musa Sefa video, he appointed Nali his Deputy Prime Minister. So Chan and Nali have a long history.
Chan served as Deputy Prime Minister under Pais Wingti from 1992-94, before being offered the Prime Minister position by then Opposition Leader Chris Haiveta, Chan crossed over and was elected Prime Minister voting out Wingti.
Chris Haiveta was then appointed Chan's Deputy Prime Minister before they were both forced to resign at the height of Sandline crisis.
Yama former member of Chan's PPP Party in 1992 served under Chan as Works and Transport Minister.
So I expect all of them to join Chan's PPP party to bring his party's numbers to 9. Wingti may also recruit a number of Western Highlands Members in PNC, including the likes of Koi Trappe to join them.
An interesting point is that he is also one of the new Members to be appointed on the Parliament Committee, a coincidence or by design? In PNG politics nothing is by coincidence, Trappe and Wingti have close ties and I wouldn't be surprised he was planted there by Wingti to back Chan as the nominee for PM.
Chan with the help of Wingti is now using the 3 weeks to pull PNC apart, and the irony is O'Neill has been dumb enough to make it all possible.
What about Members on Alternative Government side crossing back to join O'Neill - Well it's not likely because the coalition parties have asked to stay put while they pull apart what's left of O'Neill's PNC Party.
If you recall my earlier post in January 2019 titled O'Neill panics and and files Supreme Court reference.
I said, "in PNG Politics a man running scared is a lame duck, and when there is blood in the water expect the sharks to appear from the shadows."
With PNC in crisis and fast losing numbers, O'Neill is dead in the water and as expected the two sharks - Chan and Wingti have appeared from the shadows....
What about Duma, Basil, Charles or Marape, issues I will cover in my next article.
It appears O'Neill has gone from the Puppet Master to now being the puppet.