Papua New Guinea’s government and possibly the country’s liquefied natural gas ambitions have been thrown into confusion after a mass exodus of members of the ruling coalition.
At a parliamentary session on 14 November, dozens of Prime Minister James Marape’s own government, including three ministers, moved across to the opposition.
The ministers included Deputy Prime Minister Sam Basil and Foreign Affairs Minister Patrick Pruaitch, according to local media reports.
Former prime minister Peter O'Neill and leader of the opposition Belden Namah have claimed all year that Marape is taking the country backwards.
As Upstream went to press, the situation was unclear, with the opposition seeking a vote of no confidence in Marape and his government on 1 December.
However, local media reported that Marape orchestrated a parliamentary session on 17 November with about 50 members of government and no opposition members, the 2021 Budget was reportedly passed and parliament was adjourned until next April, making it difficult to stage a no confidence vote.
O'Neill responded that what he termed the "illegal actions" of Marape and the Speaker of the House would be brought before the Supreme Court.
Marape had already attacked the opposition in postings on social media site Facebook.
He said citizens needed to know that “this is a debate between those who want to maintain the status quo of corruption, big boys’ elite politics, multinational lobbyism for foreign interests, and those new leaders with a blend of strong experience, patriotic leaders who want to do the right thing, changing our country’s policies and laws for a better future for our children”.
He continued: "If it is God’s will I remain PM above this nasty greedy politics then I will, but if my time is up, then there will be nothing much I can do. In the meantime, I remain PM."
Meanwhile, Marape has been making progress on detaching the Papua LNG development and P'nyang gas projects to enable Papua LNG to move forward, and said a delegation from Papua LNG operator Total is due to arrive by 25 November for discussions.
The government had also hoped to pass this year a series of controversial fiscal reforms for the oil and gas sector.