7 Sep 2011

PNG's Somare disqualified from parliament

4:51 am on 7 September 2011

Sir Michael Somare has been disqualified from Papua New Guinea's parliament just hours after making a dramatic return after a five-month absence.

The 76-year-old former prime minister had arrived back in PNG from Singapore on Sunday to prevent the attempt by the government of Peter O'Neill to unseat him.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports the Speaker of the house, Jeffery Nape, ended the 43-year career of PNG's first prime minister just before 6 yesterday evening.

The paper says Mr Nape told Sir Michael that by operation of Section 104(2) (d) of the constitution his former seat, East Sepik Provincial, is now vacant.

Mr Nape read out a statement in parliament after Sir Michael had left the chamber.

He added he had advised the governor-general and the sergeant at arms of the parliament accordingly.

Mr Nape said Sir Michael did not have leave to be absent from parliament for the five months he was in Singapore recovering from heart surgery.

Under PNG law, a sitting member forfeits their seat if they miss more than three consecutive sittings.

Opposition MPs interrupted Mr Nape's speech, calling out "shame" and "disgrace", as the Speaker justified the August 2 decision to declare the prime ministership vacant, which allowed Peter O'Neill to be elected prime minister.