POST COURIER – 05:08 am GMT+12, 08/10/2020, Papua New Guinea
-Former prime minister Julius Chan has lambasted Prime Minister James Marape for warning provinces that seeking independence under the auspicious of gaining autonomic statuses was tantamount to sedition.
Sir Julius described the statement as a sudden “back flip” on the Prime Minister’s support for autonomous provinces.
At the same time Sir Julius also decried the relegation of his political party PPP following the decommissioning of Kokopo MP Emil Tammur from the Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry.
“I am not only surprised and disappointed by the recent reshuffle in which the Tourism Ministry was stripped from PPP for no reason and without meaningful consultation and handed to a junior member of Parliament.
“PPP has lost two Ministries under the Marape government that we helped elect. “Why Prime Minister Marape is entertaining Members that never even voted for him is puzzling indeed. It is clear to me that he is calculating to challenge PPP in New Ireland,” said a furious Sir Julius.
This comes after the PM publicly announced in Kavieng on July 15th this year during the groundbreaking of the Kavieng International Airport that he would be giving greater autonomy powers to the province.
In a statement an irate Sir Julius said this was just lip-service.
“His threats are in itself divisive, shallow and show a lack of understanding to what long standing Parliamentary leaders like Enga Governor Sir Peter Ipatas, East New Britain Governor Nakikus Konga and myself have been advocating on behalf of the millions of people we represent. It is a slap in the face of our people and our provinces,” he said.
Sir Julius said the threats by Marape to criminalise calls for autonomy where coming from a place of insecurity and fear of more provinces trying to take the path of Bougainville.
As a former PM Sir Julius urged Marape to stop making decisions based on emotions of the moment and think of the long term repercussions such draconian laws would have. We are not trying to cause disunity, in fact we are trying to make the provinces stronger and collectively we will make Papua New Guinea even greater. No province is thinking of becoming a totally independent country. That would be absurd!,” remarked Sir Julius.
He urged Marape to respect the preamble of the Independent State of Papua New Guinea under Section 46 stipulating the right to freedom of expression.
“Enacting a law to suppress all talks of autonomy will be a direct breach of our Constitution and all the freedoms of expression this country has enjoyed for the past 45 years and beyond. In short, ou will be turning this country into a dictatorship,” he said.
Sir Julius said if the Marape government wants to really shake up the country and leave a lasting legacy behind it needs to focus on rescuing the country’s economy and fighting corruption otherwise it’s a waste of time making decisions just in the name of political survival.
“Bougainvilleans have already made up their minds. They’ve already gone. Marape is mistaken to think his crying will make them stay.
“There is no point trying to enact a new law when you can’t even stop corruption within your own Government. The call for autonomy from the provinces is because of the dualists of Waigani, and he should stop those first and fix Tari and stop whining about people who are running their provinces well,” said Sir Julius.
New Ireland, East New Britain and Enga Province have been spearheading calls for greater Autonomy for the past decade and were progressively supported by the past O’Neill regime which current Prime Minister Marape was a part of as Treasurer and leader of Government business.
SOURCE: POST COURIER/PACNEWS