21 Feb 2007

PNG government in race against time to extend Highlands state of emergency

2:55 pm on 21 February 2007

The Papua New Guinea parliament is to make another bid today to extend a state of emergency in the Southern Highlands Province which is due to expire at midnight.

It was imposed in the middle of last year after the national government accused the provincial leadersip of maladministration.

Yesterday, the PNG parliament sought to extend the state of emergency for another two months but only 48 MPs were presente when a majority of 55 was needed to approve it again.

Our correspondent, Alex Rheeney, says many MPs are out of town campaigning for the general election.

"Most of the MPs, with the issue just three months away, are now on their campaign trail in the electorates. So it will be a miracle seeing the government being able to muster the numbers to get the state of emergency extended because a lot of MPs are still in the electorates and not in Moresby."

Alex Rheeney reporting from Port Moresby