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PNG on knife edge as numbers are crunched


AAP – THE PNG government survived today in parliament, but faces another political showdown tomorrow with the opposition planning to move its expected vote of no confidence.

Tonight, government and opposition camps are number crunching in earnest and shoring up support after the opposition failed to muster the numbers to move the no-confidence vote when parliament resumed earlier today.

Former deputy prime minister Sir Puka Temu, who resigned yesterday and is now vying for the prime minister's job, moved to extend question time this afternoon but raised only 42 votes in support.

This showed the opposition has doubled its numbers, but still doesn't have a majority of the 109 MPs on side for a successful move against the government.

Temu told reporters tonight that he was confident government followers sitting on the fence would side with him.

"I don't want to name the MPs and ministers but they have been talking to us," he said.

"We will follow all the procedures and do everything that is right to move this no confidence vote.

"The issue still remains that the PM is incompetent and this was demonstrated today."

In question time, Sir Michael Somare fended off numerous criticisms from the opposition regarding PNG's failure to achieve the UN millennium goals on development and a long list of corruption allegations.

The opposition's attacks were two pronged, against Mr Somare and his son and heir apparent, Public Enterprises and Finance Minister, Arthur Somare.

It seems much rests with Transport Minister, Don Polye, who holds a key position in making or breaking the government. His loyalty may be the crucial factor determining whether Mr Somare stays or goes.

Former Forestry Minister, Belden Namah, one of the three ministers who defected to the opposition this week, claimed the opposition would have the numbers to roll the government.

"When parliament sits we will have 55 on our side and we'll see a change," he said.

Parliament will sit tomorrow morning for the swearing in of Governor-General Paulias Matane, and then the opposition is expected to move the vote of no confidence.

Commentators predict Speaker Jeffery Nape may not allow the vote to be moved or may accept an adjournment of parliament that would neutralise attempts to overthrow the government.


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