13 Dec 2011

Confusion reigns in PNG after Supreme Court ruling on PM

8:15 am on 13 December 2011

Uncertainty surrounds Papua new Guinea's government after a Supreme Court ruling that the election of Peter O'Neill as Prime Minister was unconstitutional.

The court found that August's parliamentary declaration of a vacancy in the office of Prime Minister, followed by a parliamentary vote that saw Mr O'Neill elected, was illegal.

The ruling paves the way for the reinstatement of former Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare, but Peter O'Neill's government also passed amendments in parliament to legalise his election and have him sworn in again.

Our correspondent Jonathan Tannos says PNG now effectively has two Prime Ministers.

"One being sworn in now and one being reinstated by the Supreme Court. It's a power play I think between the... parliament has perhaps virtually shown itself to have inherent powers, regardless of what the judiciary rules. It's quite confusing, yes."