2 Jul 2009

PNG land rezoning drives wedge between top leaders

2:26 pm on 2 July 2009

Papua New Guinea's prime minister and deputy prime minister appear to be at odds with each other over a controversial land deal in Port Moresby.

At stake is the rezoning of a park to commercial space before the proposed sale of the land to a Chinese businessman.

The issue began as a local story about children losing a place to play but has turned into a political infight, raising questions about business influence in land acquisitions and sales.

The city's dailies report that the Prime Minister, Sir Michael Somare, has written two letters to the Deputy Prime Minister and Lands Minister, Puka Temu, requesting explanations as to why Unagi Park was rezoned for sale.

According to the Post Courier, Dr Temu went against Sir Michael's instructions and rezoned the land for sale to a prominent Chinese businessman.