More political turmoil for Papua New Guinea

1:54 pm on 18 November 2020

Politics in Papua New Guinea has been plunged into more turmoil, with government MPs continuing to meet, with the opposition out of town, thinking they had adjourned parliament until the end of this month.

The government MPs passed the Budget, and then made their own adjournment, through to next April.

Last Friday the Opposition, bolstered by government MPs crossing the floor, called for an adjournment vote, which they won.

Those MPs, or an estimated 43 of them, then travelled to Vanimo to prepare for a vote of no confidence in Prime Minister James Marape, with that to happen on 1 December.

The date is significant because Marape's 18 month grace period from no confidence votes expires then.

But on Monday the Speaker Job Pomat announced that opposition leader Belden Namah had no right to call for an adjournment and that parliament was still in session.

Parliament was to resume at 2pm Tuesday but Michael Kabuni, a political scientist at the University of PNG, said this was brought forward to 10am, presumably prompted by legal action the opposition's lawyers were preparing to take.

Papua New Guinea 's national parliament in Waigani.

Papua New Guinea 's national parliament in Waigani. Photo: RNZ / Johnny Blades

"They had a quorum. You need one third of the 111 MPs present, and they had more than 37. They presented a Budget to themselves, the government MPs and they voted on it, so the Budget is passed and they also voted to adjourn the parliament to 20th of April, 2021," Kabuni said.

A vote of no confidence seems unlikely in April next year because it would be just a year or so out from the election.

Kabuni said such a move would prompt the governor general to dissolve parliament and call an early poll.

Earlier today the former commerce minister, William Duma, who had stood shoulder to shoulder with the rebelling MPs last Friday, rejoined the government, according to Kabuni.

This brought to three the number of MPs who have re-joined the government since the split.