PNG Political Parties Meet Ahead Of No-Confidence Vote To Work Out Deal

Deputy opposition leader confident it can topple O’Neill 

By Papua New Guinea correspondent Eric Tlozek

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, July 14, 2016) – Papua New Guinea's party leaders are positioning themselves in Port Moresby to discuss Friday's motion of no-confidence in the Prime Minister and meeting on how to work towards ending political unrest.

The country's MPs have been recalled to Parliament for a special sitting on July 15 after the Supreme Court ruled this week that they must debate a no-confidence motion in Prime Minister Peter O'Neill.

The Opposition has invited MPs to discuss forming an alternative government before the sitting.

[PIR editor's note: On July 14, 2016 RNZI reported that 'Papua New Guinea's deputy opposition leader Sam Basil says he believes a no confidence motion in the Prime Minister Peter O'Neill will be successful, despite not knowing whether his bloc has the numbers.']

But one high-profile member of the governing coalition, People's Progress Party leader Ben Micah, has already urged the Government to find a solution itself and defuse tensions.

"We will be discussing with our coalition partners, we will be discussing with the Prime Minister and his party before Friday, how we will address these issues that have now escalated beyond student protests for the Prime Minister to resign towards a potential bigger threat to our safety and security," he said.

Mr Micah, whose party holds seven seats in the 111-seat Parliament, did not say if he would be asking Mr O'Neill to resign.

But he said the Government needed to respond to the civil unrest before things got worse.

"We will be proposing to our coalition partners and to the Prime Minister to take heed of the damage that's already been done, the damage that's now hanging over all our heads," he said.

"I believe the Prime Minister is sensible enough and is mature enough to work out, with coalition leaders, an amicable resolution."

Papua New Guinea's National Security Advisory Committee is meeting to discuss how to respond to protests against Mr O'Neill.

Its chairman, Chief Secretary Isaac Lupari, reportedly threatened to invoke anti-terrorism legislation to deal with any civil disobedience that would disrupt essential services.

A number of pilots did not come to work on July 13, causing delays and flight cancellations at Port Moresby airport.

Members of the pilot's union were part of a group of professionals who had threatened to stop work if Mr O'Neill did not step down, although PNG's national airline Air Niugini did not respond to questions about why the flights were affected.

The group, which said it represented "concerned professionals" from a range of sectors, had warned other services would be affected.

But PNG's energy and water providers and its port authority said they would continue services, and no other disruptions were reported.

Some PNG doctors, however, are now threatening to strike.

Radio Australia
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