Papua New Guinea has new leader: Reports
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Last Updated: Tuesday, August 02, 2011, 15:42
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 in 1975.

The prime minister's office in Port Moresby made no immediate comment on the change of leader.


First Published: Tuesday, August 02, 2011, 15:42

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