RECENTLY the media raised interesting questions: "Who will be the next PM when the prime minister quits politics in 2011 before the 2012 National Elections; What will happen to the National Alliance Party or the current Government?
This is a subjective issue and you will get many different answers. I will try to predict what may happen gauging from public perceptions and opinions of a coalition government's performance since the 2002 national elections.
So who will be the next PM? This is easy in an ideal political world where the job will naturally go to the next senior MP after the prime minister in the ruling party's hierarchical 'chain of command'. In this case, it should go to the deputy PM, Sir Puka Temu if the PM quits politics next year as speculated.
This will not happen because we are not in an ideal political world. There are many competing interests and shifting alliances within any coalition party government.
First of all, the PM will not quit politics in 2011 and before the elections. PM Somare is enjoying the feeling of power and controlling the destiny of some six million citizens that he would still has to extend his record breaking streak of being in politics until after the 2012 national elections.
More so, no one believes this talk of leaving politics any more. The people of PNG have heard it many times before, like prior to the 2012 and 2007 elections as predicted. The PM did not quit politics as speculated by the media like this one.
On a hypothetical note, if the PM was to quit politics in 2011 due to some reason like ill-health, the NA party will most likely see splits in its senor ranks. Some party members have openly shown that they do not prefer the deputy PM take the reins as they see themselves as the ideal choice for the top job. A further outcome is that the NA party may not do too well in the 2012 polls without the stabilizing presence of its draw-card, the grand chief; the glue holding the NA party together.
With due respects to other NA party members, no one is eminently qualified with the required seniority, depth of public administration knowledge and experience; and political maturity to succeed the PM Somare than the Deputy PM, Sir Puka Temu. Sir Puka has the edge over all the NA party's regional deputies as none were effective departmental heads like him before entering politics.
Apart from the deputy PM, there is another option that may seem a controversial outcome but not impossible. This option could be another record breaker for the grand chief that will be unbeatable in both PNG and Commonwealth politics. If PM Somare was really serious about elevating the status of PNG women in his twilight years of politics, he will give his job to the best performing MP in the coalition government: Dame Carol Kidu. The Dame as an MP has no equal and her actions speak louder than words as she is well supported by a competent Secretary running an effective department compared to most of her peers.
This decisive action by Grand Chief Somare will be in full recognition for the tireless efforts of a lone woman MP (and one of PNG's best lawmakers in recent times). This will upset the men in parliament but they will soon get over it to see that good governance, accountability, responsibility and 'sanity' returns to both parliament and government before the 2012 national elections.
Finally, I predict PM Somare is not yet ready to quit politics in 2011 and before the 2012 national elections. There are still many outstanding political reforms left by former PM, Sir Mekere that this government has yet to progress and this is no time to be quitting politics.