KEITH JACKSON & SOURCES
BRISBANE - Papua New Guinea prime minister Peter O'Neill resigned this morning with a parliamentary vote for a new leader to be held tomorrow.
O’Neill told parliament today he had tendered his resignation to the governor-general but he will remain prime minister until a new prime minister is elected and sworn in.
O’Neill told parliament he delivered his letter of resignation to governor-general Sir Robert Dadae at 9.45am.
Left with no room to move, he said “we can deal with this matter once and for all. Once and for all.”
The resignation came after some futile attempts to save his leadership had failed and it became clear a confidence vote brought by a newly buoyant opposition would succeed.
On Monday O’Neill had backtracked on an earlier commitment to step down in order to buy time.
Relieved opposition MPs praised O’Neill for listening to the people and stepping down to allow new leadership.
“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,” said opposition MP James Marape, engaging in some celebratory hyperbole.
“Today you showed that you still have the heart to listen to the call and cry of our people.”
Meanwhile, Australia’s prime minister Scott Morrison has been criticised for his reaction to O’Neill’s earlier announcement that he would stand down.
Fomer PNG prime minister, Sir Mekere Morauta, said Morrison’s praise of O’Neill was inappropriate, unhelpful and discourteous.
He claimed it echoed how the Australian government interfered in PNG’s 2017 election by supporting O’Neill.
Meanwhile, former attorney general Sir Arnold Amet explained that while it may be commonly perceived that the office of the prime minister is now vacant, the constitutional process allows that O'Neill continues in the office as a precautionary measure.
It is likely that a new prime minister will take office in Papua New Guinea tomorrow.