9 Aug 2002

Somare calls for Southern Highlands to give his government time

4:27 pm on 9 August 2002

The Papua New Guinea prime minister, Sir Michael Somare, has appealed to the people of Southern Highlands to remain calm and give his government time to look into the issue of undeclared electorates in the province.

The National newspaper reports Sir Michael says it would be unfair for him and his four-day-old government, to be issued with threats as he tries to settles in.

However Sir Michael says he wanted the supplementary elections to be held soon and he called the failed election in the area a shame.

Sir Michael was responding to threats by a group of Southern Highlands leaders who have given the new government 48 hours to declare the remaining six electorates.

The six MPS elect have petitioned Sir Michael and the Electoral Commissioner to have the electorates declared.

John Honale, a landowner near the Hides Gas project was reportedly told the National newspaper that if there was no reply by this afternoon, the Southern Highlands would be a republic.

Mr Honale says more people will die, roads will be blocked and more bridges will be blown up.