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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (Nov. 19, 1999 – Post-Courier)---Former Prime Minister Sir Julius Chan has called for the people to be given the right to directly elect the prime minister.

Sir Julius, who lost his Namatanai Open seat in the 1997 general elections, said this when asked to comment on the proposed law on the Integrity of Political Parties and Candidates.

Sir Julius, whose election petition against Namatanai MP Ephraim Apelis will go on trial next month in Kavieng, said, "Any system other than having a prime minister directly elected by the people would still create too much opening for political maneuvering and instability.''

'The People's Progress Party under my leadership and currently under Mr. Michael Nali has suffered from parliamentary membership drain, yet we cannot legislate against our leaders' conscience to move camps where they feel they share common ideologies and can serve better their people from their allegiances,'' Sir Julius said.

"I believe the only way now is to have the Prime Minister elected by the people. This would entail creating a new electorate for PNG. The prime minister would normally serve his full term with provisions for the deputy prime minister to become caretaker in the event of death, ill health or resignation of the PM," Sir Julius said.

He added that there should, however, be "built-in'' provisions for no-confidence motions or impeachment criteria with adequate checks and balances by a parliamentary committee system.

Sir Julius said if a motion of no confidence was successful, the people then must elect a new PM within a specified time of about 90 days.

He said the PM should appoint his cabinet, both from elected MPs and at least four nominated citizens. These nominees should satisfy often legitimate outcries for women, union, church or business representatives, the former prime minister said.

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

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