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Papua New Guinea Prime Minister James Marape says he is “at peace” and remains hopeful his major coalition government partners who have deserted the ship will return to continue steering the nation to a better future.
He said on Friday after his major coalition partners crossed the floor to the Opposition leaving him with a minority government: “As Sabbath descends, I am at peace.
“The PM’s seat is not my birthright. If MPs feel I am not capable, then they have every right to put in someone better than me for our country. But until then, I remain PM.”
He watched last Friday in Parliament as United Labour Party leader and Deputy PM Sam Basil, National Alliance Party leader Patrick Pruaitch and United Resource Party leader William Duma, all Cabinet ministers, crossed the floor, saying he respected their decisions.
“For those leaders who have joined the Opposition, that is their own decision,” he said.
“For the Government, we only have one mandated PM, and that is me while on the other side they have seven PM candidates.
“The support within the Government is strong with all ministers placing their ministries on the table telling me to reorganise. I respect my brothers who have migrated.”
The Opposition claimed that they had 61 MPs, and less than 50 on the Government side. This however could not be independently confirmed.
Marape ousted his predecessor Peter O’Neill in a similar fashion 18 months ago to form a new coalition government. He became PM on May 30, 2019. The grace period for his government to be in power without being challenged expires on Nov 30.
“In the next 14 to 17 days, I hope sanity will prevail and (our) numbers will move again to over 56 for the government to see the country through (to the next general election in) 2022,” Marape said.
“I am surrounded by leaders who are confident that we will (remain in government) through to 2021 and 2022.”
He is consulting what remains of his coalition partners “and we will reorganise the government”.
The Opposition with its strength forced Parliament to adjourn to 01 December.
They also forced the appointment of a new Private Members Business committee which decides on the tabling of motions of no confidence.
Opposition Leader Belden Namah called on Marape to resign.
“As per the Westminster system of government, when the numbers shift in Parliament, the honourable thing to do is to resign,” he said.
The Opposition described Marape’s running of the Government as erratic because of his failure to address issues affecting the nation including the state of the economy.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister James Marape says he will not rush into replacing his senior Cabinet colleagues who have crossed the floor,
“My friend (deputy PM) Sam Basil has not been decommissioned yet,” he said.
“His (National Labour) party members are still with the government and it’s up to him to enjoy the company he is with and for him to decide.
“We are not in a rush to make Cabinet decisions. They are there for us to relook at in the next week or so.
“These are things that we will make to ensure that the structure of government we set up isolates those who cause instability and secure those that we want to secure a long-term partnership into 2020 and beyond.”
He urged the people not to be involved in the type of politics being witnessed.
SOURCE: THE NATIONAL/PACNEWS
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