PNG Prime Minister Peter O’Neill finally resigns

Peter O'Neill
Former Prime Minister Peter O'Neill ... accused of corruption. Image: RNZ

By RNZ Pacific

Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has finally resigned.

O’Neill told Parliament today he had tendered his resignation to the Governor-General this morning.

“Mr Speaker, I want to inform this honourable house that at 9.45am this morning, I delivered to His Excellency the Grand Chief Sir Robert Dadae, the Governor-General of Papua New Guinea, my letter of resignation so we can deal with this matter once and for all. Once and for all,” O’Neill said.

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He has been in the role since 2011, but lost his strong majority in Parliament after mass defections from his government in the past month.

O’Neill’s formal resignation today came as he was facing a likely confidence vote brought by the opposition after he had appeared to backtrack on an earlier commitment to step down this week.

Leading opposition MPs today praised the Prime Minister for listening to the people by stepping down to allow new leadership.

‘Cry of our people’
“By your resignation today, you beat me and beat many of us and outclassing many of us to the view some of us have of you that you are power hungry. Today you showed that you still have the heart to listen to the call and cry of our people,” said opposition MP James Marape.

The resignation paves the way for a parliamentary vote for a new Prime Minister.

The New Zealand government said it was watching the unfolding political developments in Papua New Guinea closely.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the situation in PNG iwas still developing, and as such New Zealand would continue to monitor it.

However, she said it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time.

Australian PM criticised
Meanwhile, Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison has been criticised for his reaction to the announcement by former PNG Prime Minister Peter O’Neill that he would stand down this week.

Morrison praised his counterpart as a great friend and partner.

However, a former PNG Prime Minister, Sir Mekere Morauta, said the praise was inappropriate, unhelpful and discourteous.

Sir Mekere claimed it echoed how the Australian government interfered in PNG’s 2017 election by supporting O’Neill.

  • This article is published under the Pacific Media Centre’s content partnership with Radio New Zealand.
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