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A futile attempt by Marape, Powi and Ipatas

PNG Political Commentary by David Lepi

Straight after his return from China Prime Minister O’Neill quickly plugged the sporadic leakages in the ranks and averted further drama with his trademark cool, calm and collected persona. His charisma is legendary. His approach is simply cut the losses, bolster the numbers and set the well-oiled PNC machinery into action.

O’Neill seems to know what is contemporaries know and how they would probably react. His plans are always startling, instinctive and spontaneously and not infrequently upskilled. His courage is phenomenal. His men respect him and have boundless faith in him. That effectively throws off any fears of ‘no confidence’ in his government and puts the prime deserters, namely, James Marape, William Powi and Peter Ipatas like some quarries cornered in a hunt with no way out.

This effectively spell’s the end of some of these men’s political career. Governor Powi chose the wrong time to backstab his Prime Minister and countryman. Whoever the genius that gave him this brilliant idea must be conferred the highest order in mediocrity. And even his speech at the press conference and the choice of words gave it all away.

With the chances of change of government so slim Powi’s political future is in tatters and hangs by a thread. Supreme court has reserved its decision on the Powi’s election win in 2017 which is highly likely to go towards the petitioner’s favor. And by any chance if the governor’s seat has to go for a by-election Powi will certainly lose the support of O’Neill sympathizers right across the province– that is if he is contesting the Governor’s seat from the province where Prime Minister Peter O’Neill comes from- and this time the PNC cavalry won’t be coming.

Former Finance Minister Marape was sacked from the People’s National Congress party and thrown out at the party caucus. This essentially thwarted his attempts to wrestle the party leadership from O’Neill. Actually, what was he really thinking? It is very absurd of him to ask the leader of the ruling party to step down who is not only a serving Prime Minister but had led PNC over a decade when he was doing sous-chef in ‘Somare’s Kitchen Cabinet’. Further, O’Neill led PNC to form two `governments. O’Neill turned PNC into an institution and his name is synonymous with the party and is engraved in stone.

Marape, however, is a former National Alliance party man, and can always go back to his old team. If he is thinking of raising his hand in the PM contest come VONC then he has to be the party’s leader. But the problem is he cannot simply go and take leadership off from Patrick Pruaitch, neither would Pruaitch relinquish leadership easily.
Pruaitch already has 24 MPs in the opposition and he’s telling Marape and others who are vying to be the alternate PM to come convincingly with 25 MPs or more.

Unfortunately, this would a daunting task like squeezing water out of rock as the numbers are starting to dry up and Marape doesn’t have the plus 25.

For Sir Peter Ipatas, it would be a very steep climb to the top post. He has to be a leader of a party first in order to be a contender in which case his own People’s Party wouldn’t usher him straight to the top as there is no current vacancy. People’s Party leader Dr. William Tongap is as equally mandated and governor of a province as Sir Peter Ipatas. If Ipatas has the experience, Tongap has the brains as he is amongst the most highly educated politicians with a Doctorate in Philosophy (PhD) and a promising political career. He can’t just simply throw away all these for the sake of political convenience and some long shot to winning.

And for Ipatas to lead NA, old Patrick wants the 25 plus. Simply put no face, no name, no numbers, no leadership.
So, the path available for the three now is to form their own party with the other dissidents and have one whom they think smells good to head and possibly attract any like-minded lose hands. But the prospect of an avalanche inside PNC and a mass exodus is no more as no right-thinking person would want to leave a government that is strong, committed and forward thinking.

Into one insanely daring stroke O’Neill has turned the tide of an impending catastrophe. Much is owed to the social media and the opposition commentators exposing the moves made to engage senior PNC members.

Any fair assessment on the way things are unfolding it seems all excitement have subsided and no further drama as the government replenished its ranks is going strong as ever.

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