Papua New Guinea’s Parliament adjourned to head off Vote of No Confidence


Papua New Guinea’s Parliament looked set to address a motion for a Vote of No Confidence in the O’Neill-Abel Government. However, with Parliament adjourned until late May, exactly when or if a vote will take place is a matter of speculation.

The acting Clerk of Parliament, Kala Aufa, was reported as saying that the motion should be tabled on Thursday, paving the way for a vote next week.

However, the O’Neill Government has successfully adjourned Parliament until 28 May, thereby avoiding the vote for the time being.

Prime Minister O’Neill is reported as saying the delay was ‘to allow him to appoint new ministers and to give them time to get across their portfolios.’

James Marape

In recent weeks, the ranks of PNG’s official Opposition have been swelled by a series of defections by government MPs. It is unclear at this stage if the defections are sufficient to achieve a change of Prime Minister.

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In the past few days, both the Government and Opposition have held ‘camps’ in two separate hotels in Port Moresby, the Crown and Laguna hotels respectively, with intense lobbying occurring as both sides attempt to obtain the support necessary to form government.

‘Votes of no confidence have not been frequent in recent years.’

Opposition leader Patrick Pruaitch reportedly announced on Monday that the former Minister for Finance, James Marape, is the nominated alternative Prime Minister. A motion for a Vote of No Confidence (VoNC) must nominate an alternative Prime Minister, who will become Prime Minister if the VoNC is successfully passed by Parliament by a simple majority.

Absolute majority

Peter O’Neill

With no political party having an absolute majority in PNG’s Parliament, the current government is a coalition government led by the party with the most MPs, the People’s National Congress, led by Prime Minister Peter O’Neill.

After national elections in July 2017, O’Neill was returned as Prime Minister by 60 votes to 46. There are 111 MPS in PNG’s National Parliament.

VoNCs have not been frequent in recent years but they are a feature of PNG politics and are provided for under Section 145 of the country’s Constitution.

‘There has been a lot of speculation on social media, and the international press.’

In July 2016, the O’Neill Government survived a no confidence motion in the previous Parliament, by 85 votes to 21.

VoNCs under PNG’s Constitution cannot take place within 18 months of a Prime Minister’s appointment, meaning a VoNC only became possible from January this year.

Law and order

In the lead-up to the VoNC, there has been a lot of speculation on social media, and the international press, about the state of law and order in PNG, especially in the capital, Port Moresby.

Yesterday, the Commissioner of Police Gari Baki issued a statement designed to allay such fears and also remind both police and politicians of the apolitical nature of the police force.

‘I have directed for over 1,000 police personnel to be deployed within the streets of Port Moresby to ensure peace and order is maintained in the period leading up to the much anticipated VoNC,’ he said.

‘I am issuing a warning that trouble-makers will be severely dealt with.’

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