28 May 2004

PNG Opposition leadership not valid, says acting speaker

10:16 am on 28 May 2004

The new Opposition leadership in Papua New Guinea has been declared invalid.

The acting speaker of parliament, Jeffrey Nape, yesterday told the new Opposition leader Peter O'Neill that he would not be formally recognised in his new position.

The move is a setback for the Opposition, which is hoping to gather enough support to topple the government in a vote of no confidence.

Mr Nape's announcement came during a rowdy session of parliament as MPs argued over seating arrangements and political allegiances.

Mr O'Neill was named leader of the Opposition last week after he was dropped from the Prime Minister's ruling coalition in a shake-down of the government ranks.

However, Mr Nape says parties must consolidate their numbers before the new leader of the Opposition can be formalised.

Mr O'Neill responded by saying that, as leader of the People's National Congress party, with the largest numbers in the Opposition coalition, he is the rightful person to lead.