Papua New Guinea Prime Minister James Marape has survived another attempt to remove him from office when the Speaker adjourned Parliament for four months, the Guardian reported, safeguarding his position until the next election.
Marape was due to face a vote of no confidence this week but the government, citing a rampant COVID-19 outbreak, proposed an adjournment of parliament and the Speaker agreed late on Wednesday to a four-month recess, the Guardian reported.
The resource-rich country’s constitution prohibits the removal of a prime minister within a year of an election so the adjournment should see Marape keep his position until the next election in July 2022.
A spokesman for the prime minister declined to comment.
“The opposition has said it will challenge the adjournment,” Jonathan Pryke, director of the Pacific Islands Program at the Lowy Institute, a Sydney-based think tank, said.
“The courts are fickle but if the adjournment holds, Marape is safe.”
Marape survived a vote of no confidence this year after the Supreme Court had ruled that a bid to delay the vote with a parliamentary adjournment was illegal.
The political jockeying comes as PNG struggles with soaring COVID-19 cases.
On Wednesday, it reported cases had topped 10,000, a figure that international experts say vastly underestimates the scale of the pandemic.
As PNG grapples with the rise in infections it also faces delays to its vaccination program, which relies on supplies from the global COVAX vaccine-sharing scheme.
PNG, which has a population of about nine million, has started a modest vaccination program using a small number of doses sent by Australia with orders in place for more under the COVAX program aimed at inoculating countries in need.
By Colin Packham