10 Dec 2010

Somare manouevring to retain power despite tribunal, says PNG opposition

2:42 pm on 10 December 2010

Papua New Guinea's opposition says the latest cabinet reshuffle reflects desperate manouevring by the Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare to retain power.

Sir Michael's move to replace his deputy Prime Minister Don Polye with Sam Abal this week came as the Public Prosecutor stated he would launch a tribunal into the Prime Minister's alleged misconduct in office.

The matter relates to alleged improprieties regarding Sir Michael's listing of financial statements, dating back to 1993.

Although his lawyers are fighting the matter in the Supreme Court, Sir Michael says he will step aside in the interim if a tribunal is established.

The opposition's Bart Philemon says the removal of Mr Polye was about Sir Michael clinging to power.

"Sam Abal is more loyal to Somare. Even if the Prime Minister doesn't win his Leadership Tribunal case, he's got somebody on the inside that he can pull the strings from the outside. He (Somare) has been noted in the past of being, once he's not Prime Minister, still trying to influence through that person who is loyal to him, running the country."

Bart Philemon