HEATED EXCHANGE ON PNG'S SUSPENSION OF ORO GOVERNMENT

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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (September 30, 1998 - The National)---The Oro Provincial Government suspension was the subject of a heated exchange in Parliament yesterday.

Provincial Affairs Minister Simon Kaumi and Oro Governor Sylvanius Siembo shouted abuses and allegations of impropriety against each other during Question Time.

The exchange started as Mr. Kaumi was replying to questions from Opposition Leader Bernard Narokobi about the suspension.

Mr. Narokobi asked why police had moved quickly to arrest Mr. Siembo for misappropriation and why did Mr. Kaumi suspend the entire provincial government rather than deal with the governor alone.

He also asked what criteria the minister had used in suspending the government and why had the police closed the office of an elected leader.

Mr. Narokobi said that under the reforms, suspension was the last resort after other avenues had been exhausted, including the suspension of certain administrative functions.

He claimed the suspension showed Mr. Kaumi's "personal and selfish interests, as well as the incompetence and weakness of a minister who was incapable of managing the governors."

Mr. Kaumi defended the decision to deploy extra police as "a sign of an intelligent leader to send police to protect property and lives of innocent people."

He claimed certain Northern Province leaders had threatened to "create another Bougainville."

Mr. Kaumi agreed that suspension was the last resort but it was a Cabinet decision. He said he would release a full report later in Parliament.

Governor Siembo, however, accused the minister of impropriety by appointing one of his cronies as provincial administrator.

For additional reports from The National, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The National (Papua New Guinea).

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