James Marape is seen at Government House after arriving to be sworn in as the new PM in Port Moresby. File/Reuters
A bid by the political opposition in Papua New Guinea (PNG) to oust Prime Minister James Marape stalled on Monday as the speaker of an apparently deadlocked parliament adjourned proceedings for two days.
Marape has been in power for 18 months after replacing long-serving leader Peter O’Neill under similar circumstances of jostling for votes in parliament.
The challenge to Marape has gathered traction over recent days with the government weighed down by dire levels of debt and little progress in negotiations with resource companies to secure a greater share of wealth for the country.
As lawmakers entered parliament on Monday, it appeared neither side had a clear majority, with numbers evenly split.
The issue was complicated by a debate over the eligibility of one opposition member who has been declared bankrupt.
With no sign of a resolution, the speaker of parliament, Job Pomat, adjourned proceedings until Wednesday.
“In the best interests of parliament, in the best interests of the country and the best interests of the people of Papua New Guinea, parliament is adjourned,” Pomat told lawmakers.
Marape has refused to resign, insisting he has the backing of 55 members of the 111-seat parliament, enough to stay on with the support of the speaker.
The opposition says it has the support of 56 lawmakers. It has said it would nominate Marape’s foreign minister, Patrick Pruaitch, as prime minister.
The suspension of parliament will allow both sides time to try to win support ahead of an expected vote of no confidence in the prime minister.
An analyst said Marape was seen as failing to deliver on the promises he made.
“Marape won power on a populist nationalist narrative but for now, Marape appears to be all talk and not enough action,” said Jonathan Pryke, director, Pacific Islands Program at the Lowy Institute think-tank.
The selection of Pruaitch could split the opposition, with some lawmakers from the poor but gas-rich Highlands unwilling to support him, Pryke said.
Papua New Guinea lawmakers overwhelmingly elected James Marape as prime minister on Thursday — a former finance minister who resigned in protest against a massive ExxonMobil and Total gas project.
Opposition lawmakers have called for Johnson to resign and some in his own Conservative Party have said he should quit if he is found to have broken strict laws his government brought in to prevent the spread of the virus.
Twenty-four people have died—including two pregnant women with their unborn children—in tribal fighting in Papua New Guinea’s lawless highlands, prompting the prime minister on Wednesday
Tens of thousands of nurses and ambulance service staff walked off the job on Monday in a pay dispute, putting further strain on Britain's state-run National Health Service (NHS) with their largest ever strike.
Sheikh Mohammed directed the dispatch of urgent humanitarian aid worth Dhs50 million to the brotherly Syrian people, in order to provide relief to those affected by the most devastating earthquake.
The ceremony saw the signing of 22 performance agreements that commit government teams to ensure the timely development of 80 transformational projects over the next six months.