RIFT THREATENS PAPUA NEW GUINEA CABINET

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (November 14, 2000 - Post-Courier/PINA Nius Online)---Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Sir Mekere Morauta’s new Cabinet solidarity is under threat, political sources said.

While he issued a statement assuring himself of support in office, word was that there was dissent in his own party as well as in the coalition partners’ ranks.

One source said a major part of the government backbench had rallied at the weekend to join the opposition, particularly controlled by former ministers recently sacked by Sir Mekere.

Those responsible for creating the rift, the source said, included former Deputy Prime Minister Mao Zeming and sacked ministers Dr. Fabian Pok, Peter Waieng, Mathias Karani and Alfred Pogo. The source said their aim was to block the 2001 budget expected to be handed down during the session of Parliament which begins today, and the Integrity of Political Parties and Candidates Bill.

Yesterday’s PDM caucus breakfast meeting called by Sir Mekere did not get the expected numbers. One party leader confirmed there was discontent because of the way coalition partners -- Peoples Progress Party, Advance PNG Party and Pangu -- had been treated in Sir Mekere’s latest reshuffle a week ago.

The MP said these parties were "cheesed off" with the way the Peoples Democratic Movement kept all the key ministries, including the deputy prime ministership and the treasury.

A statement said Sir Mekere was not challenged as party leader. It said the vote meant that the government could get back to the business of government to continue the reconstruction and development of PNG.

"The party has, through open and democratic means, voted to continue on the path of stability that has brought significant progress in cleaning up the mess I inherited when it formed government 18 months ago," he said.

The outcome meant that the 2001 budget would be brought down on time.

The party welcomed Henganofi MP Viviso Seravo back and voted Michael Ogio as deputy leader.

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

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: http://www.pinanius.org 

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