Tuesday, May 29, 2012

PNG Prime Minister's office declared vacant

By Eoin Blackwell
AAP Papua New Guinea Correspondent

Papua New Guinea has gone from two prime ministers to none, with parliament declaring the office vacant until Wednesday.
Deputy Speaker Francis Marus opened today's special sitting of parliament saying the Supreme Court had declared Sir Michael Somare was the legitimate prime minister.
He added, however, that Sir Michael couldn't serve in the position because he was disqualified from parliament for missing three consecutive sittings.
"This means there is now a vacancy in the office of prime minister," he said.
"I formally declare there to be a vacancy in the office of prime minister.
"Tomorrow, therefore, is when a new prime minister will be appointed - nominations for the office of the prime minister will be first on the agenda for tomorrow."
The surprise move was made shortly after MPs gathered in parliament.
Prime Minister Peter O'Neill was not present, however his deputy, Belden Namah, was.
The Supreme Court last week ruled Sir Michael Somare was the nation's legitimate PM, sparking a series of dramatic events that culminated in O'Neill's government declaring a state of emergency in three provinces.
In December last year, PNG briefly had two prime minister's and two cabinets after the court handed down its first decision.
Comment is being sought from Mr O'Neill.
When asked about Mr Marus's declaration that the prime ministership was vacant, Mr O'Neill's spokesman Daniel Korembao said he knew nothing about it.
"I don't know about that, you'll have to ask the deputy speaker."
Shortly after the declaration, Mr Namah called a caucus meeting in parliament's stateroom and was overheard saying he'd seek legal advice.

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