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MPs cross the floor

Thursday, September 14, 2017

PAPUA New Guinea's biggest Opposition party has split, with its leader and most of its members joining the Government.

Deputy Opposition leader Sam Basil has brought 12 MPs from the Pangu Pati to the government of Prime Minister Peter O'Neill and his People's National Congress party (PNC).

Mr Basil was one of the Government's most outspoken critics, and his successful grassroots campaign wiped out senior government MPs in his home province of Morobe.

But he said he had to respect the Prime Minister's mandate.

"So all I can say is that Papua New Guineans have chosen the Government, now we make our choice to join PNC."

Mr Basil has also filed a criminal complaint against members of his party executive who challenged his move, alleging they stole party funds.

"We have had three of our executive being charged for misappropriation of 50,000 of the election funds," he said.

The defection helps secure Mr O'Neill's grip on Government, and he praised Mr Basil and the Opposition MPs.

Mr O'Neill said Mr Basil and his MPs had not been promised anything for making the move.

"There is no conditions attached to their coming," he said. "They really want to work for the people, that's why they're here, they want to work with the team."

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