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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (November 23, 1997 - PACNEWS)--- Papua New Guinea's new Governor-General, Silas Atopare, says Papua New Guinea is at the cross roads and it will take a strong government to direct its destiny.

In a statement issued after his swearing-in at Parliament House Thursday, Atopare called on the citizenry to think nationally and not on a regional basis, the Post-Courier newspaper reports.

He said, "For far too long Papua New Guineans have played second-fiddle and now is the time to stand out and be counted as Papua New Guineans and not get segregated into ethnic and regional groups."

He said the people of Papua New Guinea must be united and work hard to ensure that the nation progresses.

Atopare said he is confident the present national government leadership is very experienced and would, with the guidance of God, successfully pull the country through its hardships.

Atopare, age 46, is PNG's seventh Governor-General. He represents Queen Elizabeth as Head of State.

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