Sir Michael Somare has indicated he might stand for re-election in Papua New Guinea’s June poll, although the 75-year-old says age is a factor to consider.
Sir Michael, who was deposed last August after nine years as prime minister, is being urged to stand by his supporters.
However insiders say the future remains uncertain, as the ongoing political dispute in PNG heads into another round of court battles.
‘People think they can get me out with their numbers,’ Sir Michael said on Thursday, referring to the 70-24 vote on the floor of parliament to dump him and form a government under Peter O’Neill.
‘I am having second thoughts. I want to prove to them that I will come back, not with a few numbers, with a big margin.
‘You know, age is another thing to consider.’
One Somare camp insider who asked not to be named said Sir Michael was being urged to stand again by loyalists.
‘But I don’t think he’ll do it,’ the source said.
‘He says it depends on the court case.’
The Supreme Court next week is expected to issue directions on how it will handle two cases surrounding the legality of parliament’s decision to use retroactive laws to dump Sir Michael from the East Sepik Electorate he has held for 43 years.
The same court on December 12 last year ordered Sir Michael and his cabinet returned to power despite the lack of parliamentary support.
Parliament, who moved against Sir Michael following his five-month absence from PNG due to a series of heart operations in Singapore, responded to that court decision by passing retroactive laws legalising his ousting from the prime ministership.
The saga sparked a crisis in PNG that culminated in a failed mutiny on January 26 by a colonel, chosen by the Somare cabinet, and about 30 soldiers.
Sir Michael first announced his retirement in 2001, saying he would go after the June 2002 poll – which he duly won and went on to become PNG’s longest serving PM.
He announced later he would go in 2007.
Meanwhile, as many as 21 agents of the government’s corruption body, Taskforce Sweep, were denied entry to Sir Michael’s electorate on Thursday.
The investigative team flew on an Air Niugini flight from Port Moresby to the provincial capital of Wewak, only to be turned back by ‘scores of angry people’ who believed they were there to arrest provincial leaders loyal to Sir Michael.
‘The few people who have orchestrated the barricade knew the reasons why (the investigative team) were there but misled the public by using the ongoing political impasse as an excuse to lure support,’ Taskforce chair Sam Koim said.
He said his task force had swept the country, describing the agents visit to East Sepik during the political tension as unfortunate.
‘However, if we failed to go to the East Sepik Province we would be doing a huge injustice to the many people from East Sepik who had come forward and laid complaints and allegations of corruption.
‘It is unfortunate that our Melanesian culture is very protective in instances such as these where we are prepared to protect even those who cheat and rob us just because they are members of our ethnicity.’