Political upheaval in PNG:O’Neill elected new prime minister
Political upheaval in PNG – O’Neill elected as new prime minister
By Malum Nalu in Port Moresby
August 2, 2011
Peter O’Neill was elected the new Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea today, being voted in by an overwhelming majority of 74-24.
He was this afternoon transported to Government House in Waigani to be sworn in by the Governor-General, Sir Michael Ogio.
O’Neill was nominated by Opposition Leader Belden Namah, when Parliament resumed at 2pm today, and seconded by sacked Petroleum Minister William Duma.
Bulolo MP Sam Basil closed nominations.
Forests Minister Timothy Bonga walked out in protest.
Several government ministers and MPs moved over to Opposition ranks today.
Ministers included O’Neill, Internal Security Minister Mark Maipakai and Minister Assisting Prime Minister Charles Abel.
PMC reports: The dramatic change follows uncertainty for months over the future of the government headed by the ailing by “founding father” Sir Michael Somare, which had been in power for almost a decade – the longest stretch in office by any administration in the country’s 35-year history.
Somare’s long spell in Singapore’s Raffles Hospital and discouraging reports of his health status provoked speculation about the future.
Acting Prime Minister Sam Abal had been struggling to keep the administration together.
Calvin Caspar of the National Broadcasting Corporation reported:
Wild jubilation at the election of Peter O’Neill as Prime Minister this afternoon has led to the burning down of four houses by their owners at Wire Village in the Pangia District of Southern Highlands.
Wire village is near O’Neill’s village of Kauwo.
Wire Village court magistrate, Tame Tupai, confirmed the burning down of the houses in his village.
Malum Nalu publishes an independent blog and was winner of the 2011 UNESCO/Divine Word University award for communication and development.