14 Dec 2011

PNG Governor-General "removed" by O'Neill grouping in political standoff

9:44 pm on 14 December 2011

The position of Governor-General is the latest to lapse into confusion in the ongoing political standoff in Papua New Guinea with two men claiming to be Prime Minister.

One of the two, Sir Michael Somare, was reinstated by the Governor-General this morning, after five days of tense political deadlock.

But later in the day at parliament, Peter O'Neill, who replaced Sir Michael while he was overseas for heart treatment, was sitting in the government benches, refusing to step down as Prime Minister despite Monday's Supreme Court ruling that he had taken power in August illegally.

Mr O'Neill's grouping then removed the Governor General, Sir Michael Ogio, installing speaker Jeffrey Nape as the acting Governor-General.

Mr Nape subsequently swore-in Mr O'Neill as Prime Minister.

Earlier, a spokesman for Sir Michael Ogio says he sought legal advice and decided to uphold the Supreme Court ruling and therefore moved to swear in Sir Michael Somare's Cabinet.

But Mr O'Neill rejects the court ruling, saying he was elected by parliament and is therefore the legitimate prime minister.

Parliament, with only O'Neill backers in attendance, passed a motion to ban Sir Michael Somare and his cabinet from declaring themselves as the nation's government.