31 May 2012

Peter O'Neill sworn in as PNG's prime minister

8:32 am on 31 May 2012

Peter O'Neill has been sworn in as Papua New Guinea's prime minister, ending a three-hour standoff with the acting governor-general, who had refused to conduct the ceremony.

It was the third time Mr O'Neill, 46, has been sworn in as prime minister since he controversially took office from Sir Michael Somare on August 2 last year.

Earlier on Wednesday, acting governor-general Jeffery Nape refused to swear in Mr O'Neill, telling him he needed to study documentation from parliament.

An ally of Mr Nape, deputy speaker Francis Marus, earlier tried to stop Mr O'Neill from nominating for the post.

Mr O'Neill's deputy, Belden Namah, threatened to move a motion of dissent and Mr Marus relented.

Mr O'Neill was elected unopposed on a vote of 56-0.

Meanwhile, a senior member of Sir Michael Somare's political group says they are focussing on next month's election as the natural solution to the country's political crisis.

Sir Arnold says the O'Neill group planned this parliamentary maneouvreing to give itself legitimacy.

"We are way past any attempt to restore any more leverage or legitimacy following the Governor-General's declining to swear in Grand Chief Sir Michael's executive caretaker government (last week) as a result of the judgement. We are resigned to just continuing to just press for the polls to be held on time so that the people can make the final judgement."

Sir Arnold Amet.