By ISAAC NICHOLAS PRIME Minister Peter O'Neill yesterday announced a 14-member caretaker cabinet while calling on the outgoing government to respect parliamentary democracy in his election to the top post, The National reports.
But ousted acting prime minister Sam Abal hit back, saying he had been unseated by default and stealth.
The caretaker ministers included Deputy Prime Minister Belden Namah, Don Polye, William Duma, Francis Awesa, Sam Basil, Sir Puka Temu, Sir Mekere Morauta, Bart Philemon, Dr Allan Marat, John Boito and Theo Zurenuoc.
The old faces in the new line-up are Job Pomat, Moses Maladina and Ano Pala while O'Neill had advised the governor-general to decommission the rest of the Somare cabinet.
He said his full cabinet would be announced before parliament resumed next Tuesday.
O'Neill said that the interim cabinet was made up of experienced, talented and vibrant young leaders.
"The immediate task of the new government is to prepare the country for a decent and fair general election next year," he said.
O'Neill was due to call his first cabinet meeting yesterday afternoon to set the course for the new government in the next 10 months.
He also received a call in the afternoon from his Australian counterpart Julia Gillard to congratulate him on his election as prime minister.
"There are many challenges facing the country in health, education, transport infrastructure, land and justice and massive corruption in government and we are serious in addressing them.
"We will not be vindictive but to be accountable to our people," O'Neill said.
"We will be working for the majority of the people, not for a few individuals but for accountability and transparency.
"There are some decent policies of the former government that we will maintain like the Vision 2050, district services improvement programme and the district treasury roll-out programme. Programmes that we have lost we will review and move them forward."
O'Neill also called on the former government to respect parliamentary democracy.
"It is an indication of our people's desire to have change.
"The number 70-24 is not a one-vote majority. I appeal to them to be responsible and respect the wishes of our people through the parliamentary process."
He said any legal challenges would be defended fully.
Vanimo-Green MP and former opposition leader Namah thanked O'Neill for appointing him as deputy prime minister.
"There are many challenges ahead of us but we have a good team of experienced and talented leaders to address them.
"The people of Papua New Guinea, you have been calling for change and this government is for change," Namah said.