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Date Posted: Sat, Aug 02 2008, 06:53:02pm
Friday August 01, 2008
[BEHIND THE SCENE]
Parties in merger talks
PANGU Pati, the country’s oldest party, is in merger talks with the ruling National Alliance party.
Political insiders told The National that people connected with Pangu and advisers to Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare have been meeting to work out the best way for this to occur.
The backroom organisers involved in the talks have not involved party leaders at this stage.
Pangu Pati leader Andrew Kumbakor, who is Housing Minister, was aware of the meetings.
He has instructed his officials to monitor the progress and see how it pans out, but expressed concern that supporters of the party nationwide might be opposed to the idea.
Mr Kumbakor joined the party after winning back his Nuku seat in the 2007 general election.
He was previously a member of the People’s Democratic Movement when it was led by Sir Mekere Morauta, who is now leader of the PNG Party.
The five Pangu MPs who won seats after the general elections voted Mr Kumbakor as leader of the party. The others are Minister for State Philemon Embel, Kavieng MP Martin Aini, Deputy Speaker Francis Marus, and Goroka MP Thompson Harokaqveh.
An insider aware of the moves said Pangu and National Alliance had similar leadership structure, constitution and policies, so it made political sense to merge.
“Pangu can operate as an affiliate of NA now until a full merger occurs down the track. There are provisions for that. But this has to happen in conjunction with the Office of the Registrar of Political Parties,” the insider said.
But former Wabag MP Daniel Kapi, one of the oldest members of Pangu Pati, rejected the idea.
“Pangu is not a rag for anyone to use when it is convenient for them.
“Pangu does not belong to any one person.
“Pangu is part of the political structure of this country, and a merger was not on the cards,” Mr Kapi, who joined the party in 1977, said.
“If a merger is to happen, that will be decided by the national convention.
“Not even the parliamentary caucus or some adviser to the Prime Minister trying to justify his wages can decide that,” Mr Kapi said.
Pangu was formed and led into independence by Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare.
He was forced out of Pangu Pati in the early 1990s, and launched the National Alliance party.
A political commentator, who asked not to be named, said Pangu had assets and business interests whose ownership had to be determined in a merger.
“It’s not just a group of people coming around one conference table. There’s a little more to it,” the commentator said.
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