By SIMON ERORO, PETER KORUGL and Yehiura Hriehwazi
Acting Prime Minister Sam Abal yesterday demonstrated in no uncertain terms who is in charge and sacked Foreign Minister Don Polye and Petroleum Minister William Duma from Cabinet.
Mr Polye is understood to have been sacked over alleged insubordination and Mr Duma over issues relating to management of the PNG LNG project. He said in a statement late yesterday he had signed the instruments of their sacking last Friday.
Several hours earlier, Mr Polye and Mr Duma arrived from Brisbane and told a waiting media at the Port Moresby International Airport: “We are the government.” The two were met on arrival by former treasurer Patrick Pruaitch and Member for Dei, Puri Ruing. Both leaders sat throughout a media conference – an indication who is siding with who on the current political power play. Pruaitch has been pushing to return to the Finance and Treasury portfolio (now occupied by Peter O’Neill) but that has been resisted by Abal.
Mr Abal said: “I signed instruments of revocation of these portfolios last week. I am considering filling in of the vacancies that have resulted.”
The Acting PM said stability of government is paramount. Discipline and control is needed to maintain assertive leadership.
“Over the few months that I have been tasked by the Prime Minister Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare to lead Government, discipline has been seen lacking in Cabinet.
“There must be cohesion, consolidation and solidarity in Government. We are a coalition Government and we must have the zeal to work together for the good of our people.
“I have observed Ministers causing in-subordination to the extent that they are not cooperating in the job of governing for the common good of our seven million people. They are not putting national interest first before their own.
“It is my duty to ensure discipline in Cabinet without allowing personal leadership interest standing in the way for cooperative leadership for common good of all Papua New Guineans.
“I am forced to demonstrate leadership authority to make decisions that satisfies more people than just few. I must demonstrate control of government as well as for the country,” he said.
At the airport press conference, Mr Duma, who is leader of the largest coalition party in government - United Resource Party - and Mr Polye who is deputy leader of the NA Highlands region were adamant they were not removed from office except through the media.
“We are an integral part of the Government. We are the founders of this Government,” Mr Polye said, when asked if he and Mr Duma had sighted the instruments of their sacking from the Government, which they helped put together in 2007.
“I am the leader of the second largest coalition party in government. I have been loyal to Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare all this time, I am a signatory to the Warangoi Accord in 2007 and since 2002, I have been so loyal to him and no one in government and minister or MP can question that,” said Duma.
“There are other MPs in the ruling National Alliance Party who have question marks all over them.
“I have not been informed of anything decision as reported in the media and I can’t make any comments because nothing as being conveyed to me,” Mr Duma said.
Minister Polye said he agreed with Minister Duma stating that he was one of the four deputy leaders of the NA Party.
Mr Polye said the members of the party as well as those in the coalition parties sympathise with the Grand Chief when he is abroad receiving his medical treatment.
“I must be honest to the people of this country that if it’s about performance, the Minister for Petroleum William Duma has performed well.
“I am qualified to make comments like this so as my other senior colleagues like former Minister for Finance and Treasury Patrick Pruaitch and Minister for Public Enterprise Arthur Somare who have been here for 10 years.
“However, on the dismissal…no comments, we are a government and there is solidarity in government.
“Leadership is not a trade commodity, it’s earned. You don’t go to a shop to buy leadership. King David walked the hard way before God made him king.
“I never spoke to anyone including Minister Sani Rambi regarding the leadership of the party as deputy leader I hold. PNG is a democratic country and this is how leaders are made,” Minister Polye said.
Minister Polye said leadership is given on a golden plate not received on a golden plate and respect must earn it the same way.