30 May 2012

PNG parliament elects O'Neill as PM

9:35 pm on 30 May 2012

Papua New Guinea's Parliament has elected Peter O'Neill as Prime Minister in an extraordinary sitting in the capital Port Moresby.

Mr O'Neill stood unopposed and won 56 votes on Wednesday, Radio New Zealand International reports.

The election was called after the Deputy Speaker accepted last week's Supreme Court ruling upholding an earlier judgement that Sir Michael Somare was illegally removed as the country's prime minister in August last year.

However, the Speaker also disqualified Sir Michael as an MP for missing three consecutive sittings this year.

Sir Michael took court action last year after Parliament controversially declared the leadership vacant and chose Mr O'Neill as head of government.

Observers say the legality of Wednesday's vote may be challenged, because the sitting was called after Parliament had risen for the June election.