PNG opposition bid to oust PM falters

SYDNEY (Reuters) - A bid to remove Papua New Guinea (PNG) Prime Minister James Marape fizzled out on Wednesday after more than a dozen members of parliament switched allegiances and backed the government.

PNG opposition lawmakers said they would push for a vote of no confidence in Marape over mounting levels of government debt and frustration with his bid to secure a greater share of wealth for the country from resource companies.

But about 18 lawmakers who had publicly backed the opposition earlier in the week sat with Marape’s government when parliament resumed, and the vote of no confidence never materialised.

“Marape’s coalition is weak, the opposition’s is weaker,” said Jonathan Pryke, director, Pacific Islands Program at the Lowy Institute think-tank.

Marape has been in power for just over 18 months after previous prime minister Peter O’Neil resigned ahead of a no confidence vote that he appeared sure to lose.

Reporting by Colin Packham; Editing by Robert Birsel