Pacific Media Watch

2 August 2017

PNG: O'Neill re-elected prime minister following 'chaotic' day in parliament

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Prime Minister Peter O’Neill re-elected amid parliamentary 'chaos' ... Alliance will take government "to task". Image: PMO

AUCKLAND (Asia Pacific Report/Pacific Media Watch): Peter O’Neill has been re-elected as Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea amid a chaotic day inside parliament.

The tenth sitting of parliament suffered a delay and tensions broke out between Nick Kuman from the People’s National Congress and Lukas Dekena of the PNG party over who was the MP-elect for the Gumine seat, Radio New Zealand International reports.

EMTV News reports there was “commotion” as both members refused to move from their seat when asked by parliamentary staff to do so.

Dekena was declared on July 28 and Kuman on July 30, so the matter is currently before the court.

Due to such issues and the fact several seats are still to be declared — only 105 of the 111 writs have been returned — Kerenga Kua, MP-elect for Sinasina-Yonggamugl Open, visibly voiced his concerns, urging the Chief Justice to stop proceedings as members of the Alliance and PNC yelled at one another from across the room.

This prompted his Alliance colleagues to stand in solidarity with him before things eventually calmed down as newly elected MPs were sworn in.

O’Neill was the only candidate put forward by PNC after the party was invited to do so by new speaker Joe Pomat (PNC) on advice of the Governor-General, Loop PNG reports.

PNC holds majority
Pomat beat Allan Marat of the Melanesian Liberal Party 60 votes to 46, while PNC was invited to nominate a candidate for Prime Minister because the PNC coalition had the majority of seats (60), compared to the Alliance’s 47, EMTV News reported just after 10am.

Both camps had been confident they had the numbers going in today’s sitting.

O’Neill’s appointment marks the end of Papua New Guinea’s tumultuous election period which began in April.

The country’s 2017 general election has been marred with electoral roll issues, shortages of ballot papers, disputed ballot boxes and violence, as reported by Pacific Media Watch.

For those wanting a change of government, the only consolation seems to be the decrease in O’Neill’s majority and the Alliance’s determination to stand by “the cry of the people” following a press conference.

Kua said the Alliance is not a lost cause and O’Neill’s government can expect to be “taken to task” over every policy.

With several seats still undeclared, the make-up of Papua New Guinea’s tenth parliament is still to be cemented.

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