Gov’t purge begins

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Djokovic out, Usuramo new PMO chief of staff, all political appointees told to leave

By Alfred Sasako

PRIME Minister Ricky Hou has put his stamp on his new administration, issuing instruction that all Political Appointees (PAs) under the previous administration vacate their offices immediately to make way for a limited number of newer ones to be appointed.

At the same time the Prime Minister has reportedly ended the internal wrangling over the position of Chief of Staff in the Office of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.

He appointed the President of his Party, the Democratic Alliance Party (DAP), John Teddie Usuramo, yesterday as his new Chief of Staff.

It is understood Mr Usuramo took up the much-coveted position as of yesterday.

He replaced Robson Djokovic, the nephew of former Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare, who was swept out of office in a no confidence motion two weeks ago.

Mr Djokovic held the position for almost two years.

Sources told Island Sun Usuramo’s first task yesterday was delivering the Prime Minister’s instruction to Political Appointees (PA) that they vacate their offices immediately.

“New appointments will be based on merits rather than on political party affiliations,” sources said last night.

Prime Minister Hou also told officials he wanted just 30 Political Appointees whose appointment would be based on merits rather than on political affiliation.

“The number of Political Appointees is the first thing the Prime Minister had to deal with. Initially he was informed of just 33, but when he sent the information back to officials, the number increased to about 44,” one source told Island Sun yesterday.

“I think it’s the Kadere Party that wants to increase the number of PAs, but Prime Minister Hou has made it clear he wants just 30 or even less.

“The point is this, if the PAs have done nothing in the last three years since they took up their appointments, what justifications are there that they would perform in the remaining 12 months?” the source said.

The source said the Prime Minister is expected to meet with each of the Political Appointees either this week or early next week.

It is understood the previous administration had engaged in terminating certain individuals as Political Appointees while covertly engaging replacements. Former Customary Land Reform Management consultant, Genesis Kofana was a case in point.

Soon after his contract was terminated in the name of cost-cutting, the then Office of the Prime Minister recruited the younger brother of private lawyer, Wilson Rano, to replace him.

The Ministry of Lands, Housing and Survey confirmed the appointment but added the Ministry had nothing to do with it as the contract for the engagement was prepared and signed by the Prime Minister’s Office.

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