WITH a party revolt and threats of confidence motion keeping him occupied for the best of 2015, it looks like Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare will spend 2016 doing the same thing, keeping ahead of the rest and anticipating any moves by his opponents to bring his government down. It barely survived a revolt in late October when in a master stroke, seven of his ruling coalition – all members of his cabinet — handed in their resignations and crossed the floor to join the opposition.
It included Sogavare’s deputy Douglas Ete, and his education minister, himself a former prime minister, Dr Derek Sikua. Just as the opposition began their countdown for a change in government by lodging a confidence motion against Sogavare to the country’s Speaker of Parliament, Sogavare, showing his shrewdness as a master tactician, made his move.
With his government parliamentary numbers down to 23 through the defection of his seven ministers, Sogavare announced the appointment of seven new ministers, as well as the reshuffle of portfolios for two of his serving ministers. Six of the new ministers were defectors from the opposition; they were all independent members of the opposition but obviously responded to Sogavare’s overtures and crossed the floor, boosting the ruling coalition’s numbers in the legislature from 23 to 29, a clear majority in the 50-seat parliament.