21 Jan 2004

PNG Government may vote on controversial confidence bill today

4:35 pm on 21 January 2004

The Papua New Guinea Government is expected to try and pass a controversial constitutional amendment bill before the end of the week - possibly this afternoon.

Two previous attempts by Sir Michael Somare's Government to pass the bill to extend the grace period for votes of no confidence have failed.

The Government has already extended the current session as it tries to shore up support, while Opposition parties and some Government MPs are pushing for a vote of no confidence.

Our correspondent in Port Moresby, Peter Niesi, says the Somare Government is assured of the support of the necessary 55 MPs to stave off that vote, but he say it remains a different matter getting the two thirds support needed to change the constitution.

"the Government is very much in limbo and one of the reasons there has been a prolonged parliamentary session over the past couple of weeks is because the Government has been trying to delay, so they can secure the numbers necessary, and it's quite possible that the vote will be held today"