26 May 2004

PNG opposition to consider move on government

3:44 pm on 26 May 2004

The Papua New Guinea Opposition leader says his caucus is meeting tonight to consider whether to bring a motion for a vote of no confidence in the Government of Sir Michael Somare.

Parliament is to resume tomorrow and there has been speculation a vote of no confidence is likely after last week's dumping of seven Ministers and the incorporation of the PNG Party of Sir Mekere Morauta into the Government coalition.

This move followed the fracturing of several parties which have split their loyalties between the Opposition and Government.

In the latest development, Bill Skate, who had been acting Governor General since October, has resigned the post, in protest at his People's National Congress being dropped from the Coalition.

The Opposition Leader, Peter O'Neill, says the momentum is against the Government and the numbers are evenly divided.

"That will ensure that the Opposition will set firm agendas for tomorrow. There is no immediate plan on whether there should be a vote of no confidence or not, as I said, there's an Opposition caucus meeting tonight and that will decide how we approach this issue"

Meanwhile, the sacked deputy prime minister, Moses Maladina, is reported to have been offered a new ministry to return to the government.

The National newspaper says Mr Maladina was among government coalition leaders who met prime minister, Sir Michael Somare, yesterday.

The newspaper says it does not know what ministry was offered to Mr Maladina but says it could be the Public Service, previously held by the sacked leader of the People's National Congress, Peter O'Neill.

The National says the move to invite Mr Maladina back into government is aimed at keeping the People's Action Party in government ranks and effectively weakening any opposition move to topple the government.