13 May 2004

PNG government coalition under strain

3:16 pm on 13 May 2004

Papua New Guinea's Prime Minister is under pressure from two of his major coalition parties to sack three of his ministers.

In two separate letters, the People's National Congress and the People's Action Party demanded that Sir Michael Somare remove the Treasury and Finance portfolio from MP Bart Philemon and the Inter-Government Relations ministry from Sir Peter Barter - to be given to PNC.

They also demanded the National Planning and Rural Development portfolio be stripped from MP Sinai Brown and given to PAP.

Our correspondent Peter Niesi says if he doesn't comply, they could bring down the government.

"The two coalition parties are basically saying that if the Prime Minister does not do as they ask, they would not support amendments to Section 145 of the Constitution which will extend the grace period before votes of no confidence from the current 18 months to 36 months or a year."

Peter Niesi