PNG PM says Govt stable and there for the long-term
Papua New Guinea's Prime Minister Peter O'Neill says his government remains stable and committed to constructive relationships in the region.
Papua New Guinea's Prime Minister says his Government is stable and allegations made by his political opponents about him are false.
Peter O'Neill is attending the 45th Pacific Islands Leaders Summit in Palau.
An arrest warrant was issued for the Prime Minister last month over allegations of illegal payments to a law firm.
Mr O'Neill is yet to be arrested, and maintains his innocence, while the legality of the arrest warrant remains the subject of various court cases.
He spoke about domestic and regional issues to Amelia Langford, who began by asking whether he thinks Fiji should be back in the Forum.
PETER O'NEILL: Fiji's an important member of the Pacific community. It's like one of the family members who was kept locked out of the door. We don't want them to be out there any longer than what is necessary and I'm certain that the conditions that we have articulated to them, including the free and fair elections in September, I think so far they have kept to their word, they have committed to that process, and I believe that elections outcomes will be acceptable by the international community. And once that has been achieved, of course they will be welcomed back into the forum and we look forward to them coming back.
AMELIA LANGFORD: So you'd be confident those elections will be free and fair?
PO: Well, all indications lead us to believe that that will be the case, but let us wait and see what the outcomes will be.
AL: You're having bilateral talks of course with countries, including New Zealand, how did that go?
PO: Very good. Of course New Zealand is a very strong partner of PNG, a very strong friend of PNG. We have been able to work in many forms internationally, and it is no different in the Pacific Forum. We appreciate the support of the New Zealand government in terms of many of our internal issues in the country, rebuilding of some of the issues in Bouganville, they have taken a good lead, they have the trust and confidence of the people of Papua New Guinea.
AL: I guess the elephant in the room is that the country has been going through some turbulent political times at the moment. Can you make any comment on that?
PO: Well, Papua New Guinea politics is well known. But the government itself is very stable. When you have well over 19 members of parliament who are members of a government, who continue to support the stability of the government, so of course some of our political opponents resort to other means to try to undermine a government that has been duly mandated by the people. I have always maintained this fact, that nobody is above the law. We also must respect the judicial process on which we want to prosecute issues. There are issues that have been brought up which we believe are completely false. We believe very strongly that you cannot go around trying to undermine a government based on forged letters and letters that are photocopies, letters that are needed to be questioned, and when you continue to try to undermine a duly mandated government that borders on many of the legal issues that we have. We have full confidence of the judicial process and they are prosecuting this matter clearly through that process. We will respect the outcomes of that process. There is only two ways of changing the governments in Papua New Guinea, one is through ballot books during national elections and the second is through parliament, you must have the numbers to do so. There is no other way. And I think as soon as some of our opponents take note of that clear process, it will be easier for Papua New Guinea. And I think Papua New Guinea has a very interesting phase of its development. And I think, we think, these things are a destruction in itself and that we are overcoming them as we go through the judicial process that we have.
A: And final question. The asylum seekers. Do you feel there is a lot of talk about Australia's offshore centre on Manus Island. Does that taint PNG in any way, the conditions there?
PO: Unfortunately we have attracted too much negative publicity around that particular issue, not entirely our doing. But I think PNG is a friend in a region, has tried to participate in a process, we thought that it will be the basis on which the region can utilise to address some of the illegal migration that is going on within the region. Some of the smaller Pacific Island nations don't have the capacity to maintain security around their borders, maintain a tap of who is coming in and out of their countries. So given the issues Australia's had, we thought that by having an asylum processing centre or migration centre in Manus would have assisted to that. Unfortunately it became a subsequent election issue in Australia, which PNG was of course mentioned more often than what we would have liked. But unfortunately that is the nature of the beast I think. So we need to work through it. We are there for the long term. We are not there to walk away from issues because difficulties have come about. But we will keep our end of the bargain. As they say we will keep our end of the bargain and continue to assist not only Australia but any other countries in the region who have got similar issues, we are quite happy to assist them through the same issues.
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