29 May 2012

Somare again disqualified from PNG parliament for non-attendance

3:40 pm on 29 May 2012

The Papua New Guinea parliament has acknowledged last week's Supreme Court ruling that Sir Michael Somare was illegally removed as the country's prime minister in August last year.

But it immediately disqualified Sir Michael as a member of parliament for missing three consecutive sessions since January this year.

The rivals to Sir Michael, the Peter O'Neill-led government, had used a similar tactic last year to remove him, but the Somare camp contended he was only absent on two occasions without the approval of parliament.

It means there is now a vacancy for prime minister.

Parliament then adjourned and will sit today to elect a new prime minister.

The O'Neill government expressed anger at last week's court decision reinstating Sir Michael and it recalled parliament with the intention of repudiating it.

It also launched legal action, asking for the decision to be set aside.

Our correspondent says Mr O'Neill was not in parliament when the decision was taken to hold a new prime ministerial vote.