Experts pour cold water on Namah's moves to be 'elected' prime minister
EXPERTS: Lobbying by (right) caretaker PM Peter O'Neill's People's National Congress (PNC) confirms their
desire to form a coalition when invited by the governor general to form government despite suggestions to
the contrary by Mr O'Neill's deputy (left) Belden Namah.
Papua New Guinea political experts have poured cold water on suggestions by firebrand MP Belden Namah that the nation’s new prime minister will be chosen via a vote in parliament and not an invitation to form government by the head of state.
Dr Ray Anere and Dr Henry Okole, who are research fellows at local think tank National Research Institute (NRI), said the caretaker Deputy Prime Minister did not explain why section 63 of the Organic Law on the Integrity of Political Parties and Candidates (OLLIPAC) was not applicable.
The OLLIPAC section is critical in the formation of a post-election PNG government as it ensures that the party which won the most seats through endorsed candidates receives an invitation from the head of state, PNG’s governor general, to form government.
But according to PNG daily newspaper The National, Mr Namah reportedly said more politicians will team up with him and install him as the PM despite his party only getting five candidates elected compared to caretaker PM Peter O’Neill’s People’s National Congress (PNC), which has so far amassed 20 MP-elects.
“The staggering figure of new members being declared for PNC does not worry me much because I know I will have more MPs joining me after counting that is still going in PNG. I’m the favourite horse on the field. I will beat everybody for the top post because I will come from the back and beat everyone and that includes the caretaker prime minister,” Mr Namah reportedly said.
However the NRI research fellows argued that the Supreme Court in a landmark ruling in 2010 did not nullify that section of the OLLIPAC, and consequently it was still in effect as confirmed by the heavy horse trading currently underway between the PNC and potential coalition partners.
“Section 63 was not one of the areas struck out by the Supreme Court in July 2010. The only possible scenario to emerge allowed under the law would be where the most successful party in an election is unable to form a government if that party fails to muster the numbers on the floor of Parliament, or decides against taking up the prime minister’s post. Hence section 63(7) would now be invoked where parliament would be required to elect a prime minister ‘in accordance with standing orders of the parliament’. The latest political horse trading indicates that O’Neill is working on a coalition with a view to mustering the numbers,” they added.
Their clarification of the law also coincides with calls by the acting registrar for political parties, Dr Alphonse Gelu, for newly-elected politicians not to switch party allegiance in the government formation period.
The decision by a candidate to switch party allegiance before the return of writs compelled Dr Gelu to warn recently that such moves were not in the spirit of the OLLIPAC and his office would only recognise affiliations that were recorded in the original 2012 general election candidate list.
Dr Anere and Dr Okole backed Dr Gelu and appealed for common sense to prevail.
“We can only concur with Dr Gelu and hope that common sense and what is best for national interests prevails during these political treacherous times,” they said.
A total of 66 MPs have so far been declared for the 111-seat national parliament with the polling springing a number of surprises including the election of women MPs Dellilah Gore and Loujaya Toni and the defeat of veteran politician Bart Philemon.