By Kirsty Needham

SYDNEY (Reuters) -Papua New Guinea Prime Minister James Marape is likely to face a no-confidence motion with parliament resuming on Tuesday, after the opposition party nominated Rainbo Paita, who defected from Marape’s cabinet days earlier, as alternate prime minister.

Paita, the finance minister, was among several ministers to defect in a group of 18 from 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 estimated to have buried some 2,000 people in remote villages in Enga province on Friday, where rescue efforts are still underway.

Parliament sits at 2pm on Tuesday, returning after three months, with a motion of no-confidence expected to be lodged, officials said.

Before the motion can be voted on, it needs to be approved by a parliament committee that sits on Wednesday, the parliament speaker’s office added.

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

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

Foreign investors watching on should stay confident in Papua New Guinea, where democratic processes will prevail, he said.

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

Marape also urged police and military officers “don’t repeat the nonsense that took place on January 10, remain loyal to your country”, a reference to riots that broke out during a police strike.

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Papua New Guinea Prime Minister James Marape speaks during a Resources and Energy Investment conference in Sydney, Australia, December 11, 2023.REUTERS/Kirsty Needham/File Photo

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

“Tomorrow, the government will have the numbers but the consensus is that we as a government must work hard to deal with the issues affecting our country genuinely and seriously,” Defence Minister Billy Joseph wrote in a Facebook (NASDAQ:) post on Monday evening.


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