PNG politicians to pick new prime minister

8:33 am on 30 May 2019

Members of Parliament in Papua New Guinea will meet on Thursday to elect a new prime minister.

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

Peter O'Neill finally buckled under pressure and resigned on Wednesday, after a large swathe of his coalition defected to the opposition.

He had announced on Sunday he would resign though he was challenging the legality of a planned vote of no confidence.

On Tuesday the Speaker stymied efforts by the oppositon to hold the no confidence vote but Mr O'Neill clearly reconsidered his position overnight and resigned on Wednesday.

But who his successor will be is unclear.

The opposition put forward Patrick Pruaitch as its candidate earlier this week but there are other contenders in that camp, such as former justice minister Kerenga Kua.

However Mr O'Neill's government coalition has muddied the waters by welcoming back many of the MPs and cabinet ministers who in recent weeks had defected to the opposition.

During yesterday's parliamentary sitting, Sir Puka Temu, one who had crossed the floor, announced that now Mr O'Neill has resigned, he was returning to the government benches.

And yesterday afternoon about 27 other MPs, who had previously crossed the floor, joined the O'Neill coalition at the Crown Plaza hotel.

This appears to give the government the upper hand.