Sydney: Papua New Guinea selected a new
prime minister on Tuesday, ending weeks of uncertainty after
veteran leader Sir Michael Somare was declared too ill to
remain in the job, reports said.
Peter O`Neill, at one point a finance minister in
Somare`s government, takes over at a time when the
impoverished Pacific nation is on the brink of a resources
boom thanks its rich reserves of gas and gold.
Lawmakers voted 70-24 to make O`Neill leader after
they declared the office of the prime minister vacant, more
than three months after Somare went to Singapore for heart
surgery, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation said.
O`Neill replaces acting prime minister Sam Abal, whose
short term in office has been complicated by his adopted adult
son being charged with the murder of a woman at one of his
Port Moresby residences.
Somare had appointed Abal to act on his behalf while
he underwent surgery, but complications arose from the
operation and Somare`s family have said they made the decision
for him to retire without consulting him as he was too ill.
Somare, 75, has been in politics for almost 50 years
and became his country`s first prime minister on independence
The prime minister`s office in Port Moresby made no
immediate comment on the change of leader.