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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Sir Michael Somare retained PNG's Prime Ministership after a slide victory

Sir Michael Somare yesterday retained the Prime Minister’s post after Parliament voted 86-21 to give him the top job.

His election is the first time too that a prime minister has been elected with such a majority after an election. His re-election makes him the first MP to occupy the top job on four separate occasions after leading the post-independence government from 1975-1980, 1982-1985 and recently 2002-2007.

The 13-day camp in East New Britain hosted by the National Alliance Party (NA) ensured yesterday that 86 MPs from the ruling party and 13 other political parties out-muscled their rivals to vote for the veteran politician.

NA MPs and their coalition partners occupied more than three quarters of the 109-seat Parliament when they were led into the chamber at 8.40am by Sir Michael, a stark contrast to the Opposition bench’s 21.

National Parliament Speaker Jeffrey Nape, who earlier beat Opposition nominee and Lae MP Bart Philemon for the speaker’s post, over-ruled the Lae MP’s attempts to table a motion to defer the election of the Prime Minister pending the outcome of a Supreme Court reference.

Another attempt by Mr Philemon to nominate Peoples Progress Party founder and New Ireland governor Sir Julius Chan as the Opposition’s alternate candidate for Prime Minister was also snuffed out by Mr Nape.

Announcing the result after conducting the election of the Prime Minister, Mr Nape declared Sir Michael victorious after he collected 86 votes. “Honorable Members I now declare that the Member for East Sepik Provincial, Hon-orable Sir Michael Somare, has been elected as Prime Minister of the Independent State of Papua New Guinea,” the Speaker said, triggering applause in the public gallery and among MPs.

Sir Michael, in his first speech after his re-election, said the country needed stability, continuity and progress and the Warangoi agreement and accord between NA and its coalition partners will determine the progress of the new coalition government.

“Today sir, I am happy to once again lead a large but manageable coalition government. It is made up seasoned leaders, fresh, energetic, young and articulate leaders. We will not only lead and govern but we will also prepare leaders for tomorrow, this coalition government will use the next five years to build on our collective achievements to move our country forward – every citizen, investor and genuine friend is a part of our development team,” he said.

Sir Julius congratulated Sir Michael on his re-election and assured him of his group’s co-operation on the condition that the virtue of good governance was upheld.
“I know your heart is in the right place and it is important Sir Michael Thomas Somare (that) you re-walk the path that you and I started, for you it’s 39 years ago (and) for me I had a very good breath for the last 10 years,” he said.

Zooming in on MPs’ responsibilities as leaders, the New Ireland Regional MP said it was important parliamentarians “keep their feet on the ground” and continued to serve the people.

Outside Parliament, plans by civil society organisations to protest against the re-election of a Somare government were called off after fully armed policemen set up roadblocks on roads leading to the National Parliament.

Security was so tight even some departmental heads were forced to leave their vehicles outside the National Parliament fence and walk into the gallery.

Source: Post Courier

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