PNG parliament adjourns amid Covid-19 surge

Papua New Guinea’s parliament has adjourned for almost four months.

The adjournment would allow prime minister James Marape to avoid a no confidence vote

Earlier, the opposition had tabled a motion of no confidence against Marape.

The opposition listed the former prime minister Peter O’Neill as its nominee for alternate prime minister.

However, PNG’s constitution doesn’t allow confidence votes against a sitting prime minister in the twelve months before an election. The country is due to go to the polls in July next year.

The opposition is expected to challenge the adjournment in court, with O’Neill alleging it was in breach of rules around parliament’s minimum number of sitting days.

But the adjournment was deemed necessary by government after the announcement of figures incidating a quarter of staff at parliament are infected with Covid-19.

Parliament’s speaker, Job Pomat, told MPs that from preliminary sampling of 167 people within the parliament precinct, 42 – or 25 percent of them – tested positive for the virus.

Most of those infected were staff rather than MPs, but several MPs tested positive earlier this year, and Pomat said the situation was serious.

On the advise of the National Pandemic Response Controller, David Manning, Pomat said all staff and members were to undergo compulsory testing for Coronavirus.


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