21 Dec 2011

PNG's O'Neill tells Somare to "retire gracefully"

7:21 am on 21 December 2011

Peter O'Neill has been recognised as PNG's Prime Minister by the Govenor-General, the speaker of parliament, the police commissioner, Defence Force and the public service.

Mr O'Neill declared victory in the standoff, which has seen two competing prime ministers, after the governor general declared him the legitimate head of government.

Mr O'Neill says normality has returned and he had control of the country, while Sir Michael Somare has no mandate to rule, lacks public support and the numbers to challenge him successfully in parliament.

He says Sir Michael needs to retire gracefully.

Mr O'Neill says he will be making legislative changes to ensure clear provisions are in place should a prime minister fall ill and also so that a person could not continue as leader after 72, the retirement age for judges in PNG.

But Sir Michael Somare says the intimidation used by the rival Peter O'Neill group leaves his group speechless.

He says the way they've persuaded the public service to ignore a Supreme Court ruling is breathtaking.