4 Nov 2004

PNG opposition MP moves to government to 'stabilise' politics and drive gas project

5:41 pm on 4 November 2004

Papua New Guinea's opposition has been delivered a severe blow after Southern Highlands governor Hami Yawari abandoned them to join government ranks.

Mr Yawari says he has decided to defect to the government to "stabilize politics" and to support the government move the PNG-Queensland gas project forward.

He was seen as a prime mover in the Opposition's bid to oust Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare in a vote of no confidence.

But his move is a huge setback for the Opposition, and bolsters the numbers in government for the PNG Party from six to seven with only two members remaining in opposition.

Mr Yawari says he has defected in order to drive the gas project in conjunction with the Petroleum and Energy minister.

""So I must be in government so the government has one hundred percent support on this project so that we can move forward. And also I have to be in government because I am the governor and I have to make sure that I get whatever assistance the national government can give to me to run my province.""

Hami Yawari has dismissed opposition leader Peter O'Neill's accusation that the government is threatening MPs with suspensin to lure their support.