23 Feb 2012

PNG's Somare administration depicted as out of touch by insider

7:37 pm on 23 February 2012

Sir Michael Somare's former deputy says the veteran Papua New Guinea leader lost control of his government in part because he failed to communicate with his back bench.

The Somare government was toppled last August in a backbench coup and Sam Abal says one factor was it had concentrated too much power among its economic ministries.

Mr Abal led the government for five months while Sir Michael was in Singapore undergoing multiple heart operations.

He says they hadn't given enough attention to the back benches.

Sir Michael's son, Arthur Somare, was public enterprises minister until his suspension in mid 2010 pending a corruption investigation.

Government MPs, led by now rival prime minister Peter O'Neill, have frequently attacked the Somare bloc for its concentration of power during its term and for trying to set up a dynasty.

Mr Abal two days ago became the first MP to join opposition leader Dame Carol Kidu on the other side of parliament.