Thursday, 27 April 2017

Will Peter O'Neill return as the Prime Minister?

by BRYAN KRAMER
(Kramer Report - Facebook)

THIS article provides an insight into the issue whether Peter O'Neill will be re-elected as the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea following 2017 General Elections.

Would O'Neill's party, People's National Congress (PNC) be called to form the next Government?
While the short answer is YES, this view is based on PNC likely to return upto 15-20 of the 53 sitting Members of Parliament following the elections.

This will be largely due to those members winning on their own popularity and having actually delivered some form of services to their electorate. Add to this the fact they will also be heavily financed by their party (PNC) where the source of those funds come from foreign Chinese contractors, who have been the beneficiary of billion kina contracts awarded by the O'Neill Government at the expense of public funds.

There will also be some PNC members who may retain their seat relying on wide scale bribery and vote rigging. Following 2012 elections three PNC members were elected and later found guilty of bribery and undue influence and their elections voided.

However, PNC securing the highest number of parliamentary Members does not mean it will guarantee it will form the Government nor that their party leader O'Neill will secure the required 50% plus 1 majority votes (56) from 111 Members of Parliament to be returned as Prime Minister.

So the question left to ask is why won't PNC return 53 or more members of Parliament and why won't Peter O'Neill be returned as Prime Minister?
To best answer these questions we need to look at PNG's political history following general elections.

PNG's first National Election was in 1977 the results included:
Pangu Party (39) - led by Sir Michael Somare
United Party (UP) (38) - Sir Tei Abal
People's Progress Party (PPP) (18) - Sir Julius Chan
Papua Besena Party (5)
Mataungan Association Party (3)
National Party (3) - Iambakey Okuk
Bouganville Lobby (2)
Country Party (1)
Independents (0)

Somare was re-elected Prime Minister following independence with the support of United Party and PPP. He appointed Chan his Deputy in what became known as Somare/Chan Government.

In 1980 Chan accepted the offer to join the opposition to vote out Somare to become Prime Minister. Chan's Government was made up of National Party (15) and United Party (14) in what became known as Chan/Okuk Government.

While Opposition and Pangu Leader, Somare had 31 Members, however even his party had the highest number of MPs he was out numbered by the smaller coalition parties who backed Chan.

At 1982 General Elections Chan's party PPP went into elections with 17 Members.

Following the elections Pangu Pati returned with 54 members up from 31 with Chan's PPP Party returning with only 14.

Somare was re-elected Prime Minister with the support of United Party (9) giving him 63 votes. Following his re-election Somare appointed a young Paias Wingti his Deputy who was also a member of Pangu.
In 1985 Wingti set up his own party People's Democratic Movement (PDM). He then broke away from Pangu crossing the floor with 20 other defecting Pangu members to join the opposition of PPP and National Party to vote out Somare as Prime Minister.

After removing Somare in a vote of no confidence Wingti appointed Chan his Deputy, in what became known as Wingti/Chan Government.
In 1987 General Election Pangu party returned with the highest number of members (26) followed by Wingti's PDM Party with 18.

However, Wingti was re-elected Prime Minister with the support of PPP, United Party, People's Action Party and Papua Party. He was elected over Somare by the narrowest of margins defeating Somare 54-51.

In 1988, Somare was replaced as leader of Pangu Party and Opposition Leader by Sir Rabbie Namilu. Soon after the Opposition moved a vote of no confidence against Wingti who was voted out and succeeded by Namilu.

Following 1992 General Elections Pangu Party again returned with the highest number of members (22), down from 26 members going into the elections. It was followed by
PDM (15)
PAP (13)
PPP (11),
Melanesian Alliance (MA) (9),
League of National Advancement (LNA) (5)
National Alliance (NA) (2)
Independents (30).

Even though Pangu returned with the highest number of members it was again Wingti who was elected Prime Minister with the support of the smaller coalition parties and independents.

In 1994 after the 18 month grace period preventing a vote of no confidence against Prime Minister that was introduced by Namilu Government in 1991, Wingti resigned in an strategic move to get re-elected and avoid being voted out for a further 18 months. This move backfired after the Supreme Court found that Wingti's snap resignation and re-election the next day failed to give Parliament one day notice in accordance with the Constitution. Supreme Court ordered Wingti's re-election null and void and that Parliament re-convene to fill the vacancy.

Chan his Deputy, accepted an invitation to join the Opposition ranks and with the support of his own party (PPP) and Pangu was elected Prime Minister in what became known as the Chan/Haiveta Government.

In March 1997 on the eve General Elections Chan was forced to resign over public unrest triggered by the Sandline crisis. John Giheno, a senior member of his party was appointed in a caretaker capacity until the polling in June 1997.


During the 1997 General Election the key campaign debate was focused on Sandline crisis, economic problems facing the country and corruption. Skate who was very vocal against the Sandline issue and Bougainville civil war surged in popularity.

Following the elections PPP only returned with 16 Members, their party leader Julius Chan losing his seat. PPP's major coalition partner Pangu Pati returned with only 15 Members followed by:
People's Development Movement (PDM) 9
People's Action Party (PAP) 6
National Alliance (NA) 6
People's National Congress (PNC) 5
Melanesian Alliance (MA) 4
People's Resource Awareness Party 2
United Party (UP) 2
Independents (38)
Others (smaller 1 member parties) 8.

Now you will note Skate's PNC party only had 5 members of Parliament so his party was not called to form Government. However, it was only when the parties went into camp before the vote that Skate secured the support of the other minor parties and independents who campaigned against Chan/Haiveta Government.

Although PPP had the highest members in the end it became evident if they submitted their party leader as nominee they would not be able to muster the support of 55 members.

There was two camps set up in 1997 following the General Elections one in Popondetta led by Skate (PNG), Roy Yaki (PDM), Haiveta (Pangu) and PPP and other in Kokopo lead by National Alliance and Melanesian Alliance and handful of independents.

There was three nominees being proposed in Popendetta camp, Bill Skate (PNC) Roy Yaki (PDM) and new comer Mekere Morauta (Independent). A number of PDM members proposed that Yaki stand down and support Mekere. However Yaki refused so in the end Skate mustered the numbers with the support of Pangu, PPP and the faction of independents.

In the 11th hour while Skate camp returned to Port Moresby and booked into Lamana Hotel the Kokopo camp offered Havieta the Prime Minister position if he joined their camp giving them the require 55 votes. However, it is claimed Skate boys locked up the members preventing them from leaving.

The next day they were all escorted to Parliament and Skate was elected Prime Minister by 71 votes to 35. Had Haiveta crossed over to the Kokopo camp with Pangu and PPP then he would have been Prime Minister in 1997.

                     In 1999 only after 3 years in office Skate Government brought the PNG economy to its knees with balance of payments difficulties and a fiscal crisis. Skate himself and senior members of his own cabinet were implicated in high-profile corruption allegations.
In July 1999 Skate facing a vote of no confidence resigned and was replaced by Sir Mekere Morauta as Prime Minister.

In 2002 Morauta's PDM Party went into the General Elections with 39 Members but only returned with 12. The cause being people were increasingly dissatisfied about the performance of their political representatives, amid the deterioration of the country's economy and continuing allegations of political corruption.
National Alliance returned with the highest number of members (19) followed by
PDM (12),
PPP (8)
Pangu (6)
People's Action Party (5)
People's Labour Party (4)
Christian Democratic Party (3)
National Party (3)
United Party (3)
Melanesian Party (3)
Pan Melanesian Congress Party (2)
Nation Transformation Party (2)
People's National Congress (2)
Other smaller parties 1 member (20)
Independents (17).

You will note that the once dominant PNC party whose leader was Prime Minister was reduced to just two members.

National Alliance (NA) were called to nominate their candidate for Prime Minister and with the support of seven other smaller coalition parties secured the 55 votes to elect Somare.

In 2007 General Elections NA returned with the highest number of members (27) followed by
Independents (20)
People's Action Party (7) - Gabriel Kapris
PNG Party (7) - Sir Mekere Morauta
Pangu (5) - Sir Rabbie Namaliu (lost his seat)
PDM (5) - Paias Wingti (lost his seat)
United Resources Party (URP) (5) - Sam Akoitai
New Generation (4) - Bart Philemon
PNC (4) - Peter O'Neill
PPP (4) - Sir Julius Chan
Rural Development Party (4) - Moses Maladina
People's National Party (3)
People's Labour Party (3) - Peter Yama (lost his seat)
PNG Country Party (2) - Jamie Maxtone Graham
United Party (2) - Bire Kimisopa
Melanesian Liberal Party (2) - Dr Allan Marat
People's Party (2) - Peter Ipatas
People's First Party (1) - Luther Wenge
Melanesian Alliance Party (1) - Sir Moi Avei​
Other (3).

Following 2007 General Elections 13 independents eventually joined National Alliance giving it 47 members.

The key issue that allowed Somare Government to serve two terms was the Organic Law on Political Parties and Candidates that restricted members from voting against or leaving the political parties they were registered to.
It wasn't until 2010 that the Opposition challenged these laws and the Supreme Court ruled them unconstitutional.

In 2011 on eve of the 2012 elections Somare was voted out of office after members of his own kitchen cabinet broke with NA Government and supported a move by the opposition to oust Somare while he was in Singapore receiving medical treatment.

Now in summary based on PNG's short political history political parties in power who fall out of favor with the voting public are expected to be dumped at the next elections.


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