PNG Prime Minister O’Neill Calls For Stability Before Elections

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PM claims he negotiated ‘political minefield’ to ensure poll dates

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, May 21, 2012) – Prime Minister Peter O’Neill says Papua New Guinea is in election mode, and voters should not be distracted from this important democratic process.

He was reacting to a newspaper report which said the Supreme Court was likely to hand down a decision on the reference on the legitimacy of the government he had led for the past nine months.

The court had declared on Dec 12 last year that Sir Michael Somare, whose government he toppled on Aug 2 last year, should be reinstated as prime minister.

"It is important that every citizen realizes that the stability of the nation is above all else as the nation goes into election mode," O’Neill said.

[PIR editor’s note: Meanwhile, the PNG Defence Force has been provided by the Australian government with three helicopters to provide monitoring and support in critical areas during the election period. The three aircraft are part of ten helicopters for security purposes that will be joined by others from PNG, Australia and New Zealand. The joint taskforce will assist defense personnel and police during the distribution of electoral materials prior to voting.]

"There are only eight weeks to go before the new parliament is elected, and a new government is formed. What the country needs now is peace and stability as we go to the polls to decide who will lead us for the next five years.

"I am sure the members of the judiciary realize this. The government, parliament, the courts, all these institutions belong to the people, and it is to them that we return.

"It is wise that we allow the people, to whom all power belongs, to decide. This will give us the opportunity to put all these issues of the past nine months behind, and set a new course forward.

"The last thing we want is chaos to threaten the general election.

"I had to negotiate a political minefield to ensure the elections were not deferred.

"Security operations are under way to ensure a peaceful election. The country is now looking forward to going to the polls and nothing else."

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