14 Jul 2006

Sacked PNG treasurer accuses PM of vindictiveness

3:32 pm on 14 July 2006

Papua New Guinea's sacked treasurer, Bart Philemon, has accused the Prime Minister, Sir Michael Somare, and two key ministers of pushing a vindictive agenda to destroy his political career.

Sir Michael sacked Mr Philemon in a major cabinet reshuffle last week following months of tension between the pair.

The treasurer had publicly challenged Sir Michael for the leadership of the National Alliance party.

But he is now without a portfolio and is seeking to be expelled from the party so he can set up his own to contest next year's general election,, but the Prime Minister is refusing to let him leave, claiming to be bound by the political integrity law.

The prime minister says Mr Philemon did an excellent job as treasurer but he also accused him of not controlling corruption in the finance department, which is now the subject of an official inquiry.

Mr Philemon in turn accused Sir Michael, his son Arthur Somare and the Forestry Minister Patrick Pruaitch of holding back necessary financial reforms and pushing a "vindictive agenda" to destroy his political career.