13 Dec 2011

PNG Parliament sits amid turmoil following court ruling

12:47 pm on 13 December 2011

In Papua New Guinea the government of Peter O'Neill has convened parliament less than 90 minutes before Sir Michael Somare is due to visit the Governor-General's office to be sworn in as the country's new prime minister.

The tense political standoff comes after the Supreme Court ruled in a 3-2 decision yesterday to overturn Mr O'Neill's August the 2nd elevation to the top job.

AAP reports that the Speaker, Jeffery Nape, who switched sides in August to support Mr O'Neill, is expected to make a statement to parliament shortly.

Meanwhile, a spokeswoman for Sir Michael said the 76-year-old was heading to Government House to be sworn in on Tuesday morning.

Government House became the scene of a standoff late yesterday after parliament elected to reinstate Mr O'Neill in the minutes after the Supreme Court decision to unseat him was passed.

There were reports of brawls and a burst of automatic gunfire was heard on a nearby street, but there were no reports of injuries.