AN INTERNAL leadership scuffle within the National Alliance Party is unfolding as party leaders are unhappy that Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare may hand over the party leadership to his son, Arthur Somare.
A reliable source confirmed yesterday that the Momase, Southern, Highlands and Islands NA members were not happy that Mr Somare was reportedly pushing the Chief to make him the next NA leader and Prime Minister.
It is understood the Chief has been ill and is expected to announce a major cabinet reshuffle soon, including the issue of the NA leadership after meeting with government and coalition members in Wewak.
Sir Michael Somare, his son Arthur and several government ministers and key government coalition members flew to Wewak on Tuesday to hold an exclusive meeting before the announcement. They used the launching of the Wewak Sports stadium as a front and purpose for their travel to Wewak.
It is understood that at the 11th hour, NA officials were searching for Treasury and Finance Minister Patrick Pruaitch whom they accused of being in hiding.
According to a source, a strongly worded petition was handed to the Chief by the East Sepik Council presidents who warned that they would like to see the NA leadership issue resolved amicably or NA would lose its solidarity base in the two Sepik provinces. The presidents were not in support of the NA leadership going to Arthur Somare.
The NA convention was held last Tuesday in Lae in which the leadership issue was discussed and speculations began thereafter.
Prime Ministers media aide and daughter Betha Somare was contacted in Wewak to comment yesterday. She categorically denied the leadership scuffle saying that the Chief had always maintained that the leadership of NA would go to his deputy, Sir Puka Temu.
She also confirmed that Mr Pruaitch and Mr Tiensten were present at Wewak and there was no scuffle for leadership. Ms Somare said NCD Governor Powes Parkop, Milne Bay Governor John Luke, Finance and Treasury Minister Patrick Pruaitch, Planning and Monitoring Minister Paul Tiensten, Minister for State Philemon Embel, Commerce and Trade Minister Gabriel Kapris, Housing Minister Andrew Kumbakor and sidelined minister for CIS Tony Aimo were in Wewak.
Ms Somare said the Prime Minister will be returning to Port Moresby at the weekend.
Unconfirmed reports that reached the Post-Courier yesterday afternoon stated that there will be imminent changes in the reshuffle in the CIS, Agriculture and Housing ministries.