O’Namah becomes O’Dion – Namah set to Lead 17 Opposition MPs
As the dust settles over what has been a stampeding electoral process, PNG’s 111 MPs are slowly finding their feet in their respective positions.
While the Parliament has elected Prime Minister Peter O’Neill to lead a 94-strong government based on the principles of ‘reconciliation, unity and trust’, it has yet to decide who will be the alternative prime minister.
When the 9th Parliament resumes for its first sitting on August 21st, it is expected that former Deputy Prime Minister Belden Namah and leader of the PNG Party, will be elected as Leader of the Opposition.
The core of the opposition will be made up by his PNG Party, which has 8 MPs, followed by former Attorney-General Dr Allan Marat’s Melanesian Liberal Party and fresh-faced Joseph Lelang’s brand new Coalition for Reform Party – which each brought in 2 MPs.
Rounding up the team will be one-MP parties – PANGU Pati, led by Ludwig Schulze who unseated Arthur Somare; and the PNG Constitutional Democratic Party, led by Tobias Kulung.
There are also two other MPs who have opted to do the ‘PNG Shuffle’ – and switch their allegiances from the parties which endorsed them to that of PNG Party. Governor-elect of West Sepik Province, Akmat Mai, has chosen Namah over Polye; and Member for North Bougainville, Louta Atoi, has ditched Peter O’Neill for Namah too.
Namah’s band of 17 have their work cut out. Their most experienced member is Dr Allan Marat, who is in his 3rd term and who I expect will be elected as the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. This is followed by 11 others who are all in their 2nd terms – including Jim Kas who beat Sir Arnold Amet to take Madang Provincial. The remaining 5 are first-term MPs.
Despite this, Belden Namah has already signaled what sort of opposition he wants to lead. In his speech during the first session of the 9th Parliament when a prime minister was elected, Namah stated:
“I will provide a vibrant opposition with my team for this country. Let me assure the people of this country, we will fight against corruption, we will fight it without fear or favor and we will fight it because we love our country Papua New Guinea.
I wish you all the best of luck, and I look forward to a mutual working relationship between yourself as the Prime Minister and in the next couple of days when we elect the new Opposition Leader, I believe we will form very good governance in PNG.”
And I agree with Belden Namah. I think he will provide an efficacious opposition. My Twitter followers will be aware of my view in terms of this issue:
(@masalaifrog) August 03, 2012
Belden Namah’s biggest deficiency right now is that he lacks the political experience and finesse to be prime minister. His push to be prime minister was premature. Namah is a leader in his own right – there is no doubt about that. He is a passionate leader with strong opinions and has his own style.
The real challenge for Namah is to channel this passion toward the national good while following due process. In order for this to happen, Namah needs the political support around him to advise, coach and to some degree manage him if we want the best out of him for the country.
Sir Mekere Morauta tried his best when he was still with the PNG Party – but Namah needs more than one senior statesman – he needs a number of them.
And that will be a hurdle for this opposition, as Namah will be viewed upon by his colleagues as being a senior member of the band of 17. Whether Namah recognizes too that he does need political advice and direction is another issue he will need to address if he is serious about being the alternate prime minister.