Pruaitch’s party to partner with Pangu

Treasurer Patrick Pruaitch has announced his party’s intentions in partnering with the Pangu Pati and Triumph Heritage Empowerment Party to form a coalition government after the 2017 elections.

Speaking at Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare’s 80th birthday celebrations in Wewak, East Sepik Province last weekend, Pruaitch said, it is about time Sir Michael’s current and former parties get together and work as one to carry on Sir Michael’s legacy.

Pruaitch is currently the leader of the National Alliance Party of which Sir Michael was part of.

The Pangu Pati or Papua and Niugini Union Pati is a political party that was founded in June 1967 by Sir Michael SomareAlbert Maori Kiki and Barry Holloway.

Sir Michael later served as Prime Minister and as the leader of the Pangu Pati from 1972 to 1980 and from 1982 to 1985.

In 1985, Paias Wingti led a faction of the party to split with Somare, and Wingti won a no confidence vote against Somare, succeeding him as prime minister.

In 1988, Somare was replaced as leader of Pangu by Rabbie Namaliu who served as prime minister from 1988 to 1992.

Meanwhile National Alliance was founded in 1995 after the dissolution of the Melanesian Alliance Party members John MomisBernard Narokobi who merged with Sir Moi AveiBart Philemon and Masket Iangalio, who then invited Sir Michael Somare to lead them to the 1997 elections after he had been sacked as leader of the Pangu Pati.

National Alliance took 19 of 109 seats in Parliament at the 2002 election, making it the largest single party, and as such the party was invited to form the government.

The National Alliance-led government of 2002-2007 was the first government since independence in 1975 to survive a full five-year term - all previous governments had fallen to votes of no confidence.

In 2006, party co-founder Bart Philemon attempted to depose Somare as party leader, but this challenge was unsuccessful and Philemon went to the opposition benches, remaining there as leader of the New Generation Party even after Somare’s victory in the elections.

At the 2007 General Election, the party increased its representation, gaining 27 seats and remaining by far the largest party.

Sir Michael was easily confirmed by Parliament for another term as prime minister, as several parties joined a coalition with the National Alliance, and 13 independents announced their decision to join the National Alliance party, bringing its representation to 40 members.

In August 2011, the NAP-led Somare government was brought down in a parliamentary motion of no-confidence (while Somare was recovering from surgery in hospital), leading to a split in the party, between members who remained loyal to Somare, and others who joined Peter O'Neill's new government.

In October, it was reported simultaneously that the party was expelling the latter, and that the latter's leader, Don Polye, had assumed leadership of the party.

What had happened was a split, with two opposing factions both claiming to constitute the party.

In January 2012, Polye purported to de-register the NAP, despite the existence of a rival faction.

The members of his faction formed a new party, the Triumph Heritage Empowerment Rural Party ("T.H.E. Party"), ahead of the June 2012 general election.

Polye stated: "Somare is gone, and so will his party. NA will be history". The remaining faction of the party continue to recognize Michael Somare's leadership.

Currently, Polye was the Leader of Opposition with few of his MP’s while most of his members converted to Prime Minister Peter O’Neill’s party People’s National Congress.

Meanwhile, Opposition Leader Sam Basil welcomes Pruaitch’s announcement but is cautious that his (Pruaitch) speech might just be one of those political speeches.

Sir Michael Somare have officially announced his retirement from politics during his 80th birthday in front of his friends, families and heads of overseas mission in Wewak last weekend.

Freddy Mou