2 Aug 2011

Papua New Guinea elects new leader

8:19 pm on 2 August 2011

Papua New Guinea has a new leader after disgruntled government MPs joined forces with the opposition to have the prime minister's office declared vacant.

Former leader Sir Michael Somare, 75, has been in a Singapore hospital since undergoing heart valve surgery in April.

Works and Transport Minister Peter O'Neill has won a vote on the floor of Parliament and was elected prime minister, Radio New Zealand International reports.

He was demoted recently from the position of Treasurer when outgoing Acting Prime Minister Sam Abal took over from an ailing Sir Michael.

Mr O'Neill, an MP from PNG's Southern Highlands, was elected by a vote of 70 to 24.