17 May 2004

PNG PM to reshuffle cabinet to gauge support in coalition

9:11 pm on 17 May 2004

The caucuses of several key Papua New Guinea political parties have been meeting today to discuss their support for the coalition government amid uncertainty over whether it will survive this session of Parliament.

The government is under threat by demands from coalition partners, with reports of party splits over whether to support the amendment to the bill which would extend the grace period before votes of no-confidence are allowed.

As our correspondent Peter Niesi reports, the prime minister, Sir Michael Somare, says he will announce a government re-shuffle...

"He is saying that he wants to see the support of the coalition partners and that will then guide him into how he reshuffles the ministries within his cabinet. But political parties that are partners to the government, they're wondering if once this bill is passed, they won't be needed by the National Alliance caucus. Assurances were dished out by the Prime Minister's office that their track record shows that that has not been done. And so in that light, the question of when it's going to appear is going to determine when the cabinet reshuffle is going to be done. But whether this government is intact to see that happening is something that's now in the air."

PNG correspondent Peter Niesi