Dion Becomes Deputy Prime Minister with ‘Regionalism’ in Mind
In a surprise move which will generate a wide range of reactions across the nation, Prime Minister Peter O’Neill will announce today that his Deputy Prime Minister will be Hon Leo Dion, Governor of East New Britain Province.
It’s an interesting move – particularly because Leo Dion is a senior Member of Don Polye’s Triumph Heritage Empowerment Party, the party which returned 12 elected MPs – the second highest of any party after Peter O’Neill’s People’s National Congress.
It is precisely because of this that many were tipping Don Polye to be given the post of Deputy Prime Minister.
As leader of THE Party, it was a claim that was rightfully his. In addition to Polye’s experience and quality, it was a decision that should be quite straight forward.
However, it appears that Peter O’Neill after consultation with his coalition partners – including Don Polye, have agreed to nominate and support Leo Dion to the second highest office in the country.
Although Leo Dion is a quality choice too – he has the experience, respect and leadership qualities required – from the perspective of purely the numbers’ game which is so crucial in PNG politics, it is a rather illogical decision, and one that must have been made with a few distractions in mind – most importantly in this instance – the idea of ‘regionalism’.
(@Tavurvur) August 07, 2012
Governments in PNG have crumbled in the past because of their lack of wisdom in terms of balancing ministerial allocations and state agency and institutional appointments in line with the commanding idea of ‘regionalism – which is ingrained in every Papua New Guinean. It is an expected corner-stone of PNG politics.
It would be fair to say that Don Polye, although deserving of the post of Deputy Prime Minister, would have been very much aware of the implications of having two MPs from the Highlands Bloc occupying the top two posts in government.
This scenario would have been too easy a target for what appears will become a Belden Namah-led Opposition – and for any opposition for that matter – including the populace of the country’s other three regions.
It's a move designed to neutralize snipes from around the nation/parliament re "regionalism" - or having a PM + DPM from the Highlands #PNG—
(@Tavurvur) August 07, 2012
Despite this, the Deputy Prime Minister will still come from Don Polye’s THE Party, and Don Polye will still retain its leadership while picking up the prize Treasury and Finance Portfolio – ironically the same one he was stripped of by Peter O’Neill late last year.
Although I think this decision will be sustainable in the short-term in terms of government stability, the true test of this allocation will be when the window for votes of no confidence opens after the initial 18 months of Peter O’Neill’s government based on the principle of “reconciliation, unity and trust” is over.
Most importantly here too will be how Don Polye’s electorate of Kandep reacts to the decision now – and also over the next five years. They, out of all Papua New Guineans, would feel the most slighted after this decision as it would very much be their view that their man should have been Prime Minister by now – and most certainly, Deputy Prime Minister in 2012.