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No confidence vote mounted in PNG

Monday 30 May 2016 | Published in Regional

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PAPUA NEW GUINEA – Papua New Guinea’s opposition says it has the numbers and will file a motion of no confidence in the government today.

This will be the opposition’s fourth attempt to oust the government of prime minister Peter O’Neill, who has been embroiled in a far-reaching corruption scandal for the past two years.

Previous attempts have been struck down because of inconsistencies and for lacking the required number of signatures.

But an opposition spokesperson says he believes this motion meets every requirement and there should be no reason for its passage to be blocked in parliament.

He says this latest motion has been spurred by massive student protests in Papua New Guinea over the past few weeks.

Thousands of students have been boycotting classes demanding that O’Neill stand down over the corruption saga, a demand he has refused to accede to.

The PNG opposition leadership was last week was reshuffled with Bulolo MP Sam Basil handing back the leadership to Kandep MP Don Polye.

Polye was suspended as an MP at the start of the month after the Supreme Court ruled several ballot boxes from his electorate in the 2012 general election needed to be recounted.

This week the court reinstated him, following which Basil, who had taken over as opposition leader in the interim, indicated he was happy to pass the reins back to Polye as part of the opposition’s teamwork ethos.

Basil said the opposition consists of MPs who “respect the rule of law uphold the integrity of public offices they occupy”.

Both Basil and Poyle have reiterated the opposition call for Prime Minister O’Neill to stand aside to allow himself to be questioned by anti-fraud police probing a major corruption case which he is implicated in.

The opposition, as well as a list of former prime ministers, trade unions and university student bodies claim that O’Neill is allowing the office of prime minister to be damaged by not standing aside to clear his name.

The protests against the prime minister are spreading around the country.

University of Technology students caused a riot in Wabag this weekend after police denied them permission to carry out an awareness rally on the current political situation, the Post-Courier reports.

According to Enga police commander George Kakas, a bus-load of students gathered outside Wabag town where a riot started with the aid of local opportunists.

Kakas said the throwing of sticks and stones resulted in 10 people getting injured and damage to several business properties.

“Neighbouring villages have put up road blocks to prevent students from coming back.”

Meanwhile, Prime Minister O’Neill has appealed to Papua New Guineans to set aside domestic issues and focus on making a success of the three-day summit of leaders of the African, Caribbean and Pacific states who are meeting in Port Moresby.

“Please, this is a very important meeting, let’s put our domestic issues aside for a while, let’s focus on giving our people and visitors a very good time, this particular meeting will showcase Papua New Guinea in the light that it deserves.

“I appeal to the residents of Port Moresby, please let’s look after our visitors in a truly Melanesian way, we are known for our genuineness, hospitality and our ability to look after our visitors. Let us ensure that they have a memorable time here in Port Moresby.

“Some of them have never travelled to PNG, let us look after them in a truly Melanesian way and the hospitality that we normally give to our visitors,” O’Neill said. - PNC