Day 4 and the people have finally had enough so two major civil events happened yesterday. The Community Coalition Against Corruption (CCAC)/Transparency International PNG (TIPNG) held a press conference and civil rights activist Noel Anjo had his petition rally. It is clearly evident now amongst the general population that people don’t really care who wins, it is more about Somare and O’Neill finding a solution and fast.[audio http://mpegmedia.abc.net.au/ra/podcast/english/20111214_png_politics_talkback.mp3]
With only 7 months to go till the next General Elections in 2012, the most pressing issue of all is the National Budget which needs to be passed. The 3 arms of Government can still operate for a while through the supply bill provision under the Constitution, however large expenses like the elections will not be able to be funded without the Budget being passed.
CCAC/TIPNG’s two key messages were that firstly they were proud of the calm and restraint by the armed forces and also the general public itself as well and secondly the Church Leaders under CCAC put forward their offer to mediate between both parties. They believe it is inappropriate that both Somare and O’Neill are employing a ‘winner takes all’ attitude. They emphasised also that the principles of Christianity and the Melanesian Way should be adhered to in this impasse. Other statements made by the Church Leaders were that the situation had now moved beyond Somare and O’Neill and their political interests. It was now about the people and the longer it dragged out the more tensions could be building.
Later in the day, O’Neill was asked the question in a press conference if he would be interested in mediation, however he responded that he did not have to waste his time if Somare was not a Member of Parliament. This again clearly highlights how entrenched both men are in their positions. In many respects both are right legally, however we seem to have reached a point now where the law can no longer point a clear path for a solution. As one of the Church Leaders put it, ‘6 million people are now waiting on the decision of 2 men’, so essentially a political and human ego solution will most likely be required.
The other civil rights movement was the rally organised by Noel Anjo who had wanted to present a petition to both the Somare and O’Neill camps. His petition demands were:
- That Hon. Peter O’Neill and Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare and all the members of Parliament physically meet within 24 hours on the floor of Parliament, and;
- Both sides must go back to the Parliament and exercise Parliamentary Democracy to resolve the Prime Ministership Issue, and;
- Pass the 2012 National Budget
- The NEC must advise the Governor General to dissolve the Parliament as stated in s.86(2) of the Constitution, and if that fails;
- The Parliament must use s105(1) to dissolve Parliament and go into fresh elections immediately
Anjo stated that failure to do so would result in the 6 million people of PNG taking matters into their own hands and the people forming their own Equal and Fair Interm Government including both parties to take the country forward into the National Elections.
However what was interesting about this rally was that although both parties were invited to it, only O’Neill and his team turned up to the rally to receive the petition. The effect that has was that it was then agreed by both O’Neill and Anjo that since the Somare team had not turned up, this meant that Somare was not a real Prime Minister and so Anjo wholly accepted that O’Neill was the Prime Minister in his eyes in accepting his petition.
So it would seem more and more that O’Neill may have an upper hand legally and maybe after yesterday more so publicly. It hasn’t been helped by the fact that Somare has not turned up to Parliament at all since yesterday’s debacle of being sworn in by now suspended Governor General Michael Ogio, while O’Neill was being sworn in by now Acting Governor General Jeffery Nape.
Somare has set up camp at Morauta House and O’Neill is about 400 metres up the road at Parliament House but their political positions are worlds apart and it seems each day they are becoming more entrenched in their positions. However there was a break through of sorts yesterday with Radio Australia getting both Dr. Allan Marat from O’Neill’s team and Sir Arnold Amet from Somare’s team to talk on air together. We’re certainly thankful to ABC for this initiative and we ended up hearing both Marat and Amet agreeing that they had a high regard and respect for each other and that they would be willing to get their respective sides to sit down and talk in order to find a solution for this. Another MP Anderson Aigiru also offered to be a bridge between the two.[audio http://mpegmedia.abc.net.au/ra/podcast/english/20111215_png_attorneys_general.mp3]
So some hopeful signs of talks ensuing, but it would take some sacrifice from each of them which they may not be ready to give up yet. Regardless my cousin Vergil had the following suggestions to try to appeal to both sides and the Constitution:
1. Allow Somare in as MP and PM;
2. Call Parliament to meet;
3. Repeal amendments to PM and NEC Act;
4. Somare go into Parliament and call for a vote of confidence in him;
5. If Somare loses vote of confidence, he resigns as PM;
6. There is therefore a vacancy;
7. Parliament adjourned to the next sitting day;
8. Parliament conduct election for a new PM on floor of Parliament. Most likely to be O’Neill.
The people have shown what they want in their various forms and we are willing to show the way for these leaders if they can’t see it for themselves.
We are at a stage now where the longer they both drag this out, the more unpredictable and disastrous outcomes maybe. And as we’ve been saying all week, lets see what today will bring….