James Marape nominated as PNG's alternative PM

12:29 am on 7 May 2019

Members of the alternative government in Papua New Guinea have nominated MP James Marape as their choice for prime minister.

The Tari-Pori MP is expected to go up against prime minister Peter O'Neill as the latter faces a vote of no confidence in parliament.

The MPs who have defected from the government of Prime Minister Peter O'Neill include several senior ministers. They held in a news conference in Port Moresby on Friday.

Members of PNG's alternative government, or opposition, with James Marape seated fourth from left. Photo: Supplied

A former close ally of the prime minister, Mr Marape's resignation as finance minister last month sparked a series of resignations from the ruling People's National Congress party which has resulted in the most serious challenge to Mr O'Neill's leadership since 2012.

The MPs who left the PNC, plus several defectors from other coalition parties, have merged with the opposition as it plans to table a motion of no confidence against the prime minister tomorrow.

If the motion is in order, the vote of no confidence would be held next week

Mr Marape and others who left the government have raised concern about its signing of the Papua LNG Gas Project agreement with French company Total SA, and the government's handling of natural resources wealth.

A number have also claimed that corruption is out of control and that Mr O'Neill failed to consult with them in government.

"We're a Melanesian society, we're a country of Melanesian consensus-style leadership, not one man-style dictatorship," Mr Marape said, shortly before the alternative government, camped at Port Moresby's Laguna Hotel, met to make its nomination.

Mr Marape said he wanted a new government to lay foundations for a younger leadership to build the country's future.

Across town at the Crown Hotel where his government group is based, Mr O'Neill released a statement on Monday afternoon saying that at present his coalition had more than 60 MPs in the 111-seat parliament.

The prime minister branded the alternative government as a group of selfish individuals who were threatening PNG's political stability of the past seven years.

But discontent with Mr O'Neill is deep within his own party, where a number of members have sought to replace him as leader with his deputy Charles Abel.

MPs on the opposition side said they were confident of more MPs coming to join it for the confidence vote.

However a number of MPs have been seen in both camps on the same day over the past several days, signalling the situation remains fluid.