PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (ABC News Online, Nov. 26) - Papua New Guinea's current administration has failed in a bid to win a guaranteed three years in office.

The administration of Prime Minister Michael Somare could not muster the required two-thirds majority to push through a constitutional change that would have given the current administration immunity from a vote of “no confidence” for three years. Currently, the protection is limited to 18 months.

Meanwhile, Somare reportedly reacted to the defeat by firing Deputy Prime Minister Andrew Baing, who openly welcomed Parliament’s vote.

Baing said the defeat was a "victory for democracy." He also said the administration’s push was a "total waste of PNG's limited economic resources".

The vote was the first big test of laws that regulate the behavior of political parties.

A number of lawmakers, including the deputy Prime Minister, were absent from the chamber during the two-hour vote and 17 members voted against the move.

According to the Australian Associated Press, 68 lawmakers voted in favor of the measure, 10 shy of the needed majority.

Baing says the architects of the bill failed miserably to take into account its future negative effects, warning Papua New Guinea would have been inviting despotic dictators and anarchy.

Last minute confusion over whether some parties had resolved to vote for or against the measure meant a number of members of parliament, including ministers, may have breached the law.

That could result in their suspension from Parliament.

While the Government has rescinded the measure in the face of the failed vote, it may resubmit it at any time in the current sittings of Parliament.

The Government says it intends to do so.

November 27, 2003

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