Somare: I am having a second thought about retiring
Papua New Guinea’s court-reinstated Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare has indicated he is rethinking his retirement plans and could contest the coming general election.
Speaking to Radio Australia, the veteran MP said the chain of events that followed last December’s contentious Supreme Court decision is spurring him to reconsider his plans to retire from over 40 years of active politics.
“I have reached my time for retirement; I was looking forward to 2012. But if people think they can easily use the parliament numbers to get rid of me that easily, I have a second thought. Already there are plans; they are talking in terms of getting me back in parliament,” he said.
The announcement by Sir Michael, who has been sidelined by parliament-elected rival Peter O’Neill, coincides with reports that an O’Neill-established corruption investigation team were forced to return to Port Moresby by an angry crowd of people in East Sepik province.
The task force sweep team chairman Sam Koim has confirmed members of his team were not allowed to disembark from an Air Niugini commercial flight when they arrived at Wewak’s Boram airport on Wednesday.
“The incident that happened yesterday (Wednesday) at Wewak airport is truly unfortunate. I confirm that the people who were on the aeroplane that were not allowed to disembark were indeed members of my team…The timing of our visit to the East Sepik is therefore unfortunate, however, if we failed to go the East Sepik Province, we would be doing huge injustice to the many people from East Sepik who had come forward and laid complaints and allegations of corruption,” he said.
Sir Michael did not say whether the crowd in his electorate, who threatened to damage the aircraft that flew the investigators, were his supporters. However he said he was angry and disappointed with the team’s failure to follow protocol.
“The normal process of suspending a provincial government is to establish that there is non-compliance to lawful orders from the national government. Secondly, the national government has to establish that there is a threat to national unity. In this instance none of the above matters have been established. If individuals within the current regime feel that the East Sepik provincial government has not appropriately managed it financial responsibilities then the departments responsible, which are provincial affairs and treasury, must send in their teams to assist the provincial administration,” he said.
The O’Neill regime and individual members within the regime are blatantly using public servants to execute their political agenda, he added.
“It is irresponsible for O’Neill, Namah and (internal security minister John) Boito to order the police and their anointed sweep team to go into the province without informing the governor of the province to carry out their political agenda. The people and provincial government of East Sepik need an apology from the O’Neill regime and a commitment that such clandestine acts are not repeated in any other provinces in the country.”
Sir Michael will be 76 years-old if he decides to defend his seat when the general election gets underway in June, however questions remain about his health and his ability to deal with the complexities of PNG politics following heart surgery in Singapore last year.