Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O’Neill tenders formal resignation


Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has formally tendered his resignation to the country’s Governor-General, Sir Bob Dadae, this morning. The resignation paves the way for Parliament to elect a new Prime Minister. Time will tell if it’s also the end of the People’s National Congress-led government, which has governed  Papua New Guinea since 2011.

Peter O’Neill announces his resignation to Parliament Credit: EMTV

Prime Minister O’Neill confirmed to Parliament this morning that he had delivered a formal letter of resignation to the Governor-General, as required under PNG’s constitution.

The resignation follows many defections by government MPs to the Opposition over recent weeks. O’Neill had announced on Sunday that he would be handing in his resignation, in the process nominating Sir Julius Chan as his replacement. However, under PNG’s constitution, a formal resignation must be made in writing to the Govenor-General, and this did not happen until today.

‘I want to inform this honourable house that at 9.45am this morning, I delivered to His Excellency the Grand Chief, Sir Bob Dadae, the Governor-General of Papua New Guinea, by letter my resignation so that we can deal with this matter once and for all,’ O’Neill told Parliament.

After laying out what he saw as his government’s major achievements in education, health, infrastructure and foreign relations over his almost-eight years in power, he said he was resigning to avoid further instability. O’Neill became Prime Minister in 2011, and was reappointed as Prime Minister after PNG’s July 2017 National Elections.

‘For the interest of ongoing political stability and to ensure that we create confidence in the business community and the economy, so that we can continue to have social unity in our country, it’s important that I vacate this seat,’ he said.

Just before O’Neill’s announcement, the Speaker of Parliament Job Pomat confirmed that he had received a notice for a motion of no confidence in the government from the Opposition. The Opposition, which clearly demonstrated a majority on the floor in Parliament yesterday and today, is led by Patrick Pruaitch, who is the Opposition’s nominated alternative Prime Minister.

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O’Neill’s resignation effectively removes the need for a vote-of-no-confidence in the government, and paves the way for the election of a new Prime Minister and, potentially, a change of government.

What happens next?

Under PNG’s constitution, the Speaker will declare the position of Prime Minister vacant and the responsibilities of the office should fall on the Deputy Prime Minister, who is currently the Treasurer, Charles Abel.

The Speaker has adjourned Parliament until tomorrow (Thursday), when it seems likely to be reconvened for the vote for a new Prime Minister. That vote for PM would be on a simple majority of MPs.

If all proceeds according to protocol and PNG’s Constitution, there should be a new Prime Minister as early as tomorrow (Thursday). As to who that might be, only time will tell.

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