Papua New Guinea is all set for a political calculation after an uproarious week that has seen the prime minister announcing his resignation following top-level defections from his party.
According to The Guardian news reports, Prime Minister Peter O’Neil, who has been serving as the PM since 2011, has announced during a media conference in Port Moresby he would be stepping down and transferring the leadership to ex-PM Sir Julius Chan, whom Neil called as one of the “founding fathers” of the country.
However, on Monday, Julius stated there been “a huge misunderstanding”, adding he was neither acting PM nor he had been appointed to the ministerial role, and that “the existing prime minister has no power to nominate a new prime minister”.
“It is kind of funny,” said Julius, adding the position of prime minister was not one he was seeking. He added, “However, I love Papua New Guinea. There is a desperate need right now to unite the country.”
Neil’s resignation has come amidst accusations over him that he holds Australian citizenship, which directly prevents him from being the nation’s PM, which Neil has denied.
The opposition has stated Julius wouldn’t win a vote over who should rule the nation and also that the one of its own number – high profile former leaders such as ex-PM Mekere Morauta, William Duma and James Marape – would end up being as PM.
Opposition lawmaker Allan Bird told Reuters: “We will not choose him. It’s a really bad choice. We want a complete break from O’Neil [and] Chan is just a proxy for O’Neil.”
Parliament is due to reconvene on Tuesday. However, it is unclear whether Neil will officially resign or not, but if he doesn’t then the opposition has pledged to oust him with a no-confidence vote.
The resumption of the parliament is the latest in a saga which saw members of parliament camping outside two Port Moresby hotels from last few weeks.
If Neil’s resignation is done officially today then the parliament will hold a referendum on a new prime minister.