COUP IN PNG UNLIKELY: PARLIAMENTARIANS

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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (June 8, 2000 – Post-Courier)---Three senior national leaders have dismissed speculation that a coup would take place in PNG.

Chief among the speculation was that of Australian Prime Minister John Howard who warned that the political instability that has swept Fiji and Solomon Islands could spread to PNG.

His warning received prominent coverage in the Australian media.

However, the three PNG leaders, including two senior government ministers, said the execution of a coup d'etat, now, seemed far fetched.

Acting Foreign Affairs Minister Kilroy Genia said PNG's ethnic diversity provided the natural checks and balances that would neutralize any rationale for a coup.

"I don't think it will work in PNG, but we have to be cautious and draw lessons from people's frustrations in Fiji and the Solomon Islands," he said.

The Justice Minister said while the Government did not rule out the potential for any spillover effects of the Solomon Islands coup into PNG, the situation there as well as in Fiji provided real lessons for PNG.

Mr. Genia reaffirmed Prime Minister Sir Mekere Morauta's statement, which is also the official PNG position, that PNG would allow the domestic processes to resolve the conflict, but at the same time PNG would use its regional influence to assist, especially through regional arrangements like the Melanesian Spearhead Group.

Mr. Genia said he had been briefed by Foreign Affairs Secretary Evoa Lalatute, which suggested that the situation in Honiara had quieted down. He also said the 23 PNG citizens employed at the Gold Ridge mine were safe and in no danger.

The country's founding father, Sir Michael Somare, said while PNG had its economic and social problems, an immediate coup catching on from those in the Solomon Islands and Fiji was remote.

Asked about this coup possibility, he answered: "No, no, I personally don't think so. I think our people are more understanding.

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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