By John Dau

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Dec. 12) – Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Michael Somare has expressed confidence that the Constitutional Amendment Bill to extend the grace period before a vote of "no confidence" is allowed, from 18 to 36 months, would be passed when the Parliament meets next year.

Parliament already has turned away the amendment twice in recent weeks.

Sir Michael, on his arrival from the Commonwealth Heads of Meeting in Africa, said the Bill was the property of the Parliament and would be called upon for a second vote after the Governor General's appointment is formalized in January.

He said he was sure common sense would prevail in the minds of the MPs so that the amendment could be passed, and indicated a second vote would most likely take place in Parliament's April sitting.

That would depend on the court challenge being instituted by Opposition leader Sir Mekere Morauta.

Sir Mekere is asking the court to declare that once a bill fails to secure the required numbers to pass, it lapses and cannot be rescinded.

If the court rules in favour of Sir Mekere, the Government would have to re-introduce the bill to amend section 145 of the amendment of the constitution as a fresh bill.

A motion of no confidence against the Prime Minister is also possible in April, as his 18 months grace period expires at the end of February 2004.

Speaking at a press conference at the Jackson's Airport, Sir Michael said there was confusion on how parties should vote under the Law on the Integrity of Political Parties and Candidates in the last sitting.

He said they know where the mistakes were on the voting process of the parties and they hoped to correct it before April.

He said there was a disease that after 18 months, politicians and their non-politicians handlers form groups to remove the Government in power during votes of no confidence.

However, he said: "My Government will survive and we will continue to be in power."

Sir Michael his Government has the numbers to run the country, and would survive any vote of no confidence with 68 MPs.

December 15, 2003

The National:


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