Microkhan by Brendan I. Koerner

Face Off

September 2nd, 2011 · 2 Comments


When you’ve spent the better part of your adult life at the helm of an entire country, it must be awfully hard to accept a gold watch and fade into the sunset. I’m going to guess that playing bridge, hitting the country-club buffet, and working on your memoirs doesn’t give a type-A personality the same sort of thrill as hobnobbing with heads of state. So how many of us can be surprised to hear that Sir Michael Somare, the longtime prime minister of Microkhan fave Papua New Guinea, is having second thoughts about relinquishing his hold on power:

PAPUA New Guinea’s founding father and former prime minister Michael Somare will take up his seat when parliament sits again next Tuesday, his son Arthur said yesterday…

Earlier, Sir Michael’s daughter Bertha had emailed a media statement from Singapore, where he is recovering from three heart operations since April.

The statement, accompanied by Sir Michael’s signature, said: “Let me be clear. I am ready, willing and able to complete my term as the only legally elected prime minister of Papua New Guinea”.

It quoted Sir Michael, 75, as saying: “There has never been a vacancy in the position of prime minister.”

That last bit is certainly news to Papua New Guinea’s parliament, which declared the prime minister’s post vacant in early August, upon learning of Somare’s serious health problems. Peter O’Neill was elected in Somare’s stead, and the cockeyed optimists among PNG watchers were hoping he might finally do something about the nation’s endemic corruption and lack of security.

If Somare does show up on Tuesday as promised, the showdown on the parliament floor will make for some excellent political theater. Does anyone know if PNG’s equivalent of C-SPAN has a live Internet feed?

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2 Comments so far ↓

  • Sturt

    It appears the denoument was quite dramatic and tinged with pathos …..

    http://www.smh.com.au/world/somares-return-fails-to-save-seat-20110906-1jw5u.html

    To be fair, while the Chief’s demise was cruel, it was clear he was no longer up to the job. At least this Parliament followed its processes, unlike the 1997 Sandline revolt. So the PNG Parliament has improved in some way.

  • Brendan I. Koerner

    @Sturt: Dramatic, indeed–wish there was video of Nape’s speech and the furious interruptions. But can’t say I’m surprised that Somare’s last-ditch effort wasn’t successful. He probably reckoned as much, and just wanted to make one last show of power–the way things slipped away in early August probably left a bad taste in his mouth.

    Challenge now, it seems, is for the opposition to accept that Somare’s era is over and focus on the serious business of legislating. Fingers crossed that this positive sign is a harbinger of good things to come.

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