Former PNG PM compensated for removal

7:28 am on 13 August 2015

A former Papua New Guinea prime minister has been paid 700,000 US dollars in compensation for what a Treasury report describes as his illegal removal from office.

Former Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare

Former Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare Photo: RNZ / Johnny Blades

Sir Michael Somare was overthrown in 2011 while in Singapore for extended medical treatment, when parliament declared his seat vacant and voted to appoint Peter O'Neill as Prime Minister.

Sir Michael's removal was later ruled illegal by the Supreme Court, but the O'Neill government wrote legislation to retrospectively make it legal, which led to a political impasse during which both men claimed to be in charge.

Four years later, it has emerged that a two million kina payment has been made from Treasury as compensation for losses that occurred in Sir Michael's removal.

A spokesperson for Sir Michael says the deal was reached as part of an out-of-court settlement with the attorney-general's office.

However, the issue is not over yet, with two further claims from Sir Michael still pending.

One of the claims if for 52 million US dollars in general damages for mental anguish and public humiliation; the other for 24 million dollars in exemplary damages.