5 Aug 2011

New PNG government says administration was dragging its feet over Somare

9:34 am on 5 August 2011

A member of Papua New Guinea's new government says the ousted administration was dragging its feet over the issue of Sir Michael Somare's health and that this presented the opportunity for a change of leadership.

On Tuesday, fifty members of the then government defected to the opposition to have the Prime Minister's office declared vacant because of Sir Michael's prolonged absense due to ill-health.

The parliament then voted Peter O'Neill as the new Prime Minister.

The ousted government had been pursuing a constitutional process to independently verify whether Sir Michael was unfit to continue.

But Bart Philemon says enough time had been wasted already.

"We felt that it was going to be another twenty-eight days. Sir Michael's family had already declared his unsuitability to continue even if he was discharged from the hospital. And from what we know, I think they'd used this deliberately as a cover to see how long they can stay in power."