22 Jun 2011

PNG cabinet reshuffle comes amid deep split in ruling party

8:56 pm on 22 June 2011

The acting Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea has announced a cabinet reshuffle as he faces a challenge from within his own party.

As part of the reshuffle Sam Abal has appointed Ano Pala to replace Don Polye, whom he sacked as foreign minister.

He's also reappointed Patrick Pruaitch as Finance Minister, although he's still to face a leadership tribunal over allegations including double-dipping and grant misappropriation.

Post Courier reporter Peter Korugl says Sam Abal is trying to shore up support from the Momasa grouping of the National Alliance Party by appointing Mr Pruaitch.

He says that comes as he faces a growing threat from the party's Highlands block following Mr Polye's sacking.

"Weeks ago the National Alliance Enga branch where Sam Abal comes from voted to expel Abal from the party, and last Thursday the chairmans and presidents of the branches in the Highlands met and endorsed the decision which means they expelled Sam Abal from the party."

Peter Korugl says the expulsion would have to be endorsed by the party's National Executive, and from the parliamentary caucus which is backing Mr Abal.