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A vote of no confidence looms for the leader of Papua New Guinea, Marape

By Kirsty Needham

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Papua New Guinea Prime Minister James Marape is likely to face a vote of no confidence in parliament after the opposition party nominated Rainbo Paita, who defected from Marape’s cabinet days earlier, as deputy prime minister.

Paita, the finance minister, was among the ministers who defected in a group of eighteen members of Marape’s Pangu party.

Newspaper front pages in the capital Port Moresby have been dominated by the political drama, which has overshadowed a devastating landslide that is estimated to have buried some 2,000 people on Friday in remote villages in Enga province, where rescue efforts continue.

Parliament met briefly on Tuesday and returned after three months, with Paita on the opposition bench, and adjourned until Wednesday. The parliamentary speaker said there were high expectations in the nation for a no-confidence motion, but reminded lawmakers that such a motion is a week-long process.

Once a notice is submitted, it must be approved by a committee that meets on Wednesday, and then a week before the vote.

In a statement Monday evening, Marape said six of the 18 defecting lawmakers have now returned to the government side, and that his coalition partners had also pledged support.

Marape stood before television cameras on Tuesday before parliament convened and said he had the support of 74 lawmakers, including coalition partners, above the parliamentary majority threshold of 56.

Foreign investors watching must continue to have confidence in Papua New Guinea, where democratic processes will prevail, he said.

“Investors, don’t get caught up in the nonsense,” he added.

Marape also called on police and military officers “not to repeat the nonsense of January 10, to remain faithful to your country”, a reference to the riots that broke out during a police strike.

Marape was re-elected for a second term as prime minister in 2022 and already survived a vote of no confidence in February after riots in the capital.

“Tomorrow the government will have the figures, but the consensus is that we as a government must work hard to tackle the problems affecting our country in a sincere and serious manner,” Defense Minister Billy Joseph wrote in a Facebook post on Monday evening. post.

(Reporting by Kirsty Needham in Sydney; Editing by Michael Perry)