FORMER PNG PRIME MINISTER BILL SKATE BOWS OUT GRACEFULLY

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By Joe Kanekane

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (July 15, 1999 – The Independent)---Former Prime Minister Bill Skate says he may consider quitting politics for good if his family felt that this would be the best thing for him to do.

However, he is still determined to have a shot at the Prime Minister's seat in the 2002 elections.

He said that being the Prime Minister for two years had been a very difficult task for him and he is confident that the exposure he got as head of the country has made him mature as a politician.

Looking relaxed and fresh, Mr. Skate said that politics has taken him away from his family and he would spend the remainder of his parliamentary term with them and even resign if he is asked to do so.

Mr. Skate said that he had the option of going down with a fight in maintaining his post and government, but he decided against it because he believed that other leaders had to take over.

He said he wanted to set a precedent for leaders that, if they were losing support, the best thing for them to do was to resign, because that was the honorable thing to do as a leader.

Mr. Skate said he believed that the interests of Papua New Guineans should come first, and that was the main reason why he had resigned and kept himself away from contesting the Prime Minister's post.

"I have done my best. Like all humans, I have made mistakes, but that has led me to be wiser.

"The job of being a Prime Minister is not an easy one, and I have had to vacate my office because of betrayal by my own members," said Mr. Skate.

He added that he took office at a very difficult time because the country was faced with a long drought, low commodity prices and other shortcomings, which crippled the country.

He said, coupled with that, his government has striven to put in place stringent measures to bail out the country from some of the shortcomings and put it on the road to recovery.

Mr. Skate said that he was proud to have led the past government for two years, during which time he had been able to learn as well as make decisions that were sometimes controversial but had to be done.

He pointed out that one of his biggest achievements was the peace process on Bougainville, which saw no further lives lost under his government.

Mr. Skate has also assured Prime Minister Sir Mekere Morauta that he would be available to assist him if Sir Mekere needed his services.

Mr. Skate has not indicated whether he will take over the running of the NCDC, which is currently held by fellow PNC member and Moresby Northeast MP Philip Taku.

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

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