Five PNC rebels break away from O’Neill’s cabinet in shock move

Enga Governor Sir Peter Ipatas with his fellow defectors from the ruling People's National Congress (PNC) at today's surprise press conference in Port Moresby. Image: Bryan Kramer

By Jack Lapauve Jnr in Port Moresby

Three Papua New Guinean provincial governors and two other MPs have resigned from Prime Minister Peter O’Neill’s People’s National Congress Party in what appears to be a significant power shift.

Enga’s Sir Peter Ipatas, Southern Highlands Governor William Powi and Hela’s Phillip Undialu resigned from the PNC. They were joined by the Member for Komo-Magarima, Manasseh Makiba, and Member for Esala, Steven Davis

The move is a major development in the PNC. Sir Peter, Undialu and Powi have been the PNC’s strongest allies and key links between the party and other Highlands MPs.

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The three governors made the announcement at a news conference in Port Moresby today. They were accompanied by Jiwaka Governor, Dr William Tongamp.

In announcing his resignation, the Enga Governor Sir Peter said his move follows close consultation with his people. He thanked the Prime Minister for the opportunity to serve in the PNC government.

Hela Governor Phillip Undialu was less diplomatic.

In a statement, he outlined his reasons for exiting the party which included the  loss of confidence in the Prime Minister’s leadership, the delay in distributing earthquake disaster funds and a general dissatisfaction among other MPs.

The resignation follows the exit of high ranking ministers, long-standing Finance Minister James Marape and Davis.

In a Facebook posting, opposition Member for Madang Bryan Kramer warned more government members were likely to resign.

As the calm breaks and the storm sets in, it is surely the beginning of the end of Peter O’Neill’s reign,” he said.

“Loyalty to God and country and not a corrupt Prime Minister.”

O’Neill is visiting China this week as part of the Belt and Road initiative.

Jack Lapauve is an EMTV News reporter. This story is published under the Pacific Media Centre’s partnership with EMTV.

We are live from Parliament house.Five Governors announcing their resignation from PNC.

Posted by Loop PNG on Thursday, 25 April 2019

Loop PNG video of the PNC breakaway MPs media conference today.

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