19 Jul 2004

PNG government loses three in defection, but it's not expected to affect their control

7:16 pm on 19 July 2004

A government minister, a vice minister and a National Alliance MP have resigned from the Papua New Guinea Government to join the Opposition.

Lands Minister Petrus Nane Thomas, Trade and Industry Vice Minister Timothy Tala and Menyamya MP Teta Geoka from the Prime Minister's ruling party, all officially confirmed their resignations from Government today.

Our correspondent Peter Niesi says the defections won't neccessarily affect the Somare Government's grip on power.

"effectively it means the National Alliance loses one party vote, but the Opposition does not gain that much. The move by the Minister and the Vice Minister means that the majority of the People's Progress Party has now shifted to the Opposition, but the Government still has the numbers to fend it off, and they still have the majority support based on the Integrity Law which commits parties to remain in their original coalitions."