PNG PM SKATE CONFIDENT OF CONTINUED COALITION SUPPORT

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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (June 29, 1998 - Radio Australia)--- Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Bill Skate says his government continues to have strong support, despite the corruption and sex scandal allegations that rocked his coalition last week.

Mr. Skate says coalition leaders held talks over the weekend, during which government numbers in the 109-seat Parliament were confirmed at 65.

He says voters will decide the fate of his government during the next scheduled election in 2002, despite opposition claims his government is about to fall.

Last week, former senior adviser Luke Lucas, who has since been fired, said Mr. Skate authorized him to offer the British-based mercenary firm Sandline International $AUS 9 million ($US 5.47 million) for information to discredit former Prime Minister Sir Julius Chan.

Allegations were also raised in Parliament that a videotape showing a senior member of Mr. Skate's party having sex with teenage girls was used for political blackmail.

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