O'Neill's camp again holding all the cards in PNG leadership battle

6:36 pm on 29 May 2019

The path to the election of a new prime minister in Papua New Guinea has become more mysterious.

Prime Minister Peter O'Neill announced his resignation this morning in parliament and a vote for his replacement is due from Thursday morning.

Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O'Neill talks to the media as he visits the international media center, set up for Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit, in Port Moresby on November 14, 2018. (Photo by Saeed KHAN / AFP)

Photo: AFP or licensors

But at the conclusion of this morning's session a large number of MPs, who had defected to the opposition benches in recent weeks, appear to have now returned to the government.

One of them, Sir Puka Temu, signalled this when he told parliament he was returning now that Mr O'Neill had resigned.

And it seems at least 27 others, including former key ministers such as James Marape, have also returned.

These numbers would easily give Mr O'Neill's coalition a majority, but who among them might be put up to contest the prime ministership is unclear.

Business as usual in Port Moresby

The Port Moresby Chamber of Commerce and Industry says the political turmoil in Papua New Guinea has had minimal impact on business in the capital.

President Rio Fiocco says it is business as usual in Port Moresby.

He told the National newspaper the only impact was that some buses were not running which has affected the number of people going to work and going to shops and schools.

He said members of the chamber would, however, like to see the normal process take its course as quickly as possible.

Australia-PNG Business Council chief executive officer Materua Tamarua had similar views.

Mr Tamarua said it is business as usual and political developments happen as part of the democratic process.

Port Moresby in PNG

Photo: RNZ Pacific/ Koroi Hawkins