Crafty Somare survives no-confidence challenge
- From: The Australian
- July 22, 2010
Buoyed by his win, Sir Michael, 74, crossed the chamber as MPs began to leave the house, pointed at rising young opposition star Sam Basil, and shouted in Pidgin: "If you were outside, I would kill you."
He was constrained by his son, Public Enterprises Minister Arthur Somare.
This is the second year running that he has avoided a no-confidence challenge by simply shutting parliament down.
But this time, he is also likely to face a legal challenge, with a strengthened yet bitterly frustrated opposition claiming they were robbed by a ruse in which the Speaker, Jeffery Nape -- a member of Sir Michael's National Alliance party -- played a crucial role.
Legal appeals may come over the nature of Mr Nape's ruling in parliament, and the consequent failure of parliament to meet its constitutional requirement of sitting days each calendar year.
Following a mass defection of MPs from the government ranks, the opposition -- now led by Puka Temu, deputy prime minister until Monday night -- moved a motion of no confidence in the morning.
Resuming after lunch, the government moved an adjournment -- the traditional blocking manoeuvre, in PNG's feisty political rugby games.
Mr Nape asked for a verbal response, and most witnesses say the "nos" were clearly louder. But Mr Nape said "the ayes have it", slammed his gavel down and declared parliament adjourned.
He ignored the roars from the opposition calling for a division.
If Sir Michael had felt confident about hanging on to his majority -- 55 of the 109 MPs -- he would have sought a formal vote. His reliance instead on the Speaker's apparently partial hearing betrayed his uncertainty.
Sir Puka told AAP after the drama in parliament: "They call him the 'father of the nation', but he and his family are destroying the nation. They break laws, they treat parliament like a joke. Is this what PNG wants? No, they want an end to this."