Polye resumes PNG opposition leadership

5:05 pm on 27 May 2016
Papua New Guinea opposition leader Don Polye.

Papua New Guinea opposition leader Don Polye. Photo: Supplied

The Bulolo MP Sam Basil has handed back the leadership of Papua New Guinea's parliamentary opposition to Kandep MP Don Polye.

Mr Polye was suspended as an MP at the start of the month after the Supreme Court ruled several ballot boxes from his electorate in the 2012 general election needed to be recounted.

This week the court reinstated him, following which Mr Basil, who had taken over as opposition leader in the interim, indicated he was happy to pass the reins back to Mr Polye as part of the opposition's teamwork ethos.

Mr Basil said the opposition consists of MPs who respect the rule of law uphold the integrity of public offices they ocupy.

The opposition reiterated its call for Prime Minister Peter O'Neill to stand aside to allow himself to be questioned by anti-fraud police probing a major corruption case which he is implicated in.

Fraud squad officers secured an arrest warrant for Mr O'Neill two years ago over his role in allegedly illegal state payments to the Paraka Lawyers law firm.

The prime minister's lawyers launched a series of legal challenge to the validity of the arrest warrant which are yet to be finalised in court.

Proclaiming his innocence, Mr O'Neill has characterised the fraud squad's probe as being politically compromised and has refused to be questioned.

However, public perception has grown that the prime minister is placing himself above the law, culminating in large protests that are currently spreading across the country.

The opposition, as well as a list of former prime ministers, trade unions and university student bodies claim that Mr O'Neill is allowing the office of prime minister to be damaged by not standing aside to clear his name.