24 Aug 2004

PNG prime minister told to stay away from Mt Hagen

12:46 pm on 24 August 2004

The Papua New Guinea prime minister, Sir Michael Somare, has been told to stay out of the re-developed Kagamuga airport opening on Friday in Mt Hagen.

The Post Courier reports that the Transport and Civil Aviation Minister Don Polye has also been told to stay away from the 16-million-US dollar AusAID-funded airport improvement when it is officially opened.

The two Cabinet members have been warned not to go to the opening unless they brought with them more than 65-thousand dollars to settle outstanding landowner claims.

But the Prime Minister's office has indicated the official opening date may be changed because of Cabinet meetings in Rabaul.

They said that to date, they have received no official complaints from the organising committee in Mt Hagen and Sir Michael is still planning on officiating at the opening.

Both Sir Michael and Mr Polye have been told the opening should be performed by the Provincial Government and key people on the ground and not the National Government.

The Provincial Government had provided counter part funding for the roads component of the project and played a major role in all negotiation and peace processes with landowners to kick-start the project last year.