Ways to Becoming a Prime Minister in Papua New Guinea

How can you become a Prime Minister in Papua New Guinea? According to Allan Bird, there are three ways to become Prime Minister in PNG. First, Party leader with the highest number gets the invitation to become the Prime Minister. Second, a Party Leader or an MP can be nominated and be elected as the Prime Minister during ‘Vote of No Confidence’.  Third, steal the Prime Minister seat by breaking the National Constitution. What are your thoughts? Is bridging of our National Constitution to become Prime Minister a good practice?



I see the strong comments from young Sepiks and other coastal citizens for a coastal Prime Minister. So let me share my observations on whether this outcome is indeed possible and what it would take to achieve it.

There are three ways someone can become Prime Minister in Papua New Guinea:

1. Party Leader that Gets the Highest Number

The first is obviously a party leader of the party that gets the highest number after the elections getting the invitation from the Governor General after the 2022 elections. Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare had this opportunity in 2002 and 2007. Peter O'Neil had that opportunity in 2012 and 2017. It's also possible for like minded parties to form a block and vote against the ruling party in August and nominate their own PM. But this has never occurred previously and the chances are slim.

2. Vote of No Confidence

Through a vote of No Confidence as we saw against PNC in this term of Parliament where Marape was elevated. This is much more difficult because it takes a very special leader who is well liked or regarded as less destructive than the incumbent.
Marape became Prime Minister because most MPs and the country was fed up with PNC and he was the most likeable choice among the contenders.
The choice of Marape was also driven by the fear of not letting PNC or O'Neil back in. I believe most Papua New Guineans are afraid of letting PNC back into government. Certainly after the burning of the PANGU flag in Southern Highlands last week, I see many coastal communities fearful of what that means for the country. In Sepik the last few days, I have seen rising fears of the dangers of a PNC led government.

3. Steal It by Breaking National Constitution to Become Prime Minister in Papua New Guinea.

The third way of becoming Prime Minister is to steal it by breaking the Constitution like many leaders did in 2011. Again, the chances of this are slim.
So which coastal party leaders have the charisma and the attraction to become Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea in 2022 and what are their chances?

Image showing the team opposition nominating Allen Bird as the alternative Prime Minister for the word of no confidence. The caption of the image stated that the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, Honorable James Marape Accepts The Challenge for Bird as Alternative Prime Minister in the Vote of No Confidence

Patrick Pruaitch:

National Alliance Party of which he is leader won 15 seats in 2017. NA is likely to win between 15 and 20 seats this time around.

To get the invitation from the Governor General, history tells us the magic number is 27. If NA does not get 27, we will need a coalition and that coalition will depend on Hon. Patrick Pruaitch's ability to negotiate with other party leaders. Notably, PANGU which NA has an agreement with. The other like-minded partners are URP, People's Party and National Party and other smaller coalition partners of the current government.

Lekwa Gure:

ULP has an opportunity with their 4 MPs and with the tragic and unfortunate loss of their charismatic party leader, late Hon Sam Basil. But they will also need to win 27 seats or a significant number to have a chance.

Charles Abel:

ODP has two MPs and is likely to form an alliance with PNC if they get the numbers. Again, they face similar challenges to NA.

All other coastal one man party leaders like Maru, Kramer, Namah, Juffa and others will need to win greater than 15 seats to have an opportunity.

The only party to do that from nowhere was PANGU in 2017 under the late Hon. Sam Basil. Such a feat is unlikely to be repeated but strange things have happened.

From the above and given our history, it's likely and obvious that the two main players will still be PANGU and PNC.

So all candidates who win seats in 2022 will need to pick between the above parties.

To our young upcoming leaders, the key to getting a Prime Minister from another region lies in supporting candidates who are well liked nationally and who can form alliances with others.

Building parties takes time. Building alliances takes time. Gaining national popularity takes time. These things will not occur in one term.

My suggestion is that you stick to the party or leader you like best and help build them up and wait for the opportunity. While miracles do happen, let's not count on it.

In the meantime, don't make derogatory statements about the leaders and behaviors of leaders from the Highlands. They have their own ways of behaving and we have ours.

While we value humility and respect for one another and we behave accordingly, let's not go the way of our Highlands friends and start doing things with violence or burning flags or using guns to win elections.

I encourage young coastal leaders to continue to behave in ways that best represents our values. Good behavior is not a sign of weakness, it is a sign of great strength. Let the ballot box speak.

A coastal Prime Minister will come when we have a leader who can pull support from all corners of the country and when the nation is ready for it.

Making negative and inflammatory statements will not help to make that happen.

Allan Bird.

QUESTION: If the citizens are to vote for the Prime Minister in Papua New Guinea, who will you vote for? 


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