Papua New Guinea's rival prime ministers

Amid the ongoing power struggle for the top job in Papua New Guinea, the BBC takes a look at the two men claiming the prime minister role - Peter O'Neill and Sir Michael Somare.

Peter O'Neill

Peter O'Neill speaks at a press conference in Port Moresby on 15 December, 2011 Peter O'Neill is said to have the support of many state institutions

Born in the Southern Highlands Province to an Australian father of Irish descent and a Papua New Guinean mother, Mr O'Neill was a businessman before being elected to parliament in 2002.

Two years later, he became leader of the opposition before crossing the floor in 2007 to join Sir Michael Somare's government as finance, treasury and works minister.

Mr O'Neill is said to have the support of the civil service, the police, the defence force and most MPs and is currently effectively running the country.

The 46-year-old has a bachelor's degree in accountancy and commerce from the University of Papua New Guinea.

Sir Michael Somare

Known as "The Chief", Sir Michael led the country to independence from Australia before becoming country's first prime minister in 1975.

File picture of Michael Somare in Port Moresby on 17 August 2007 Sir Michael Somare has been a leading figure in PNG politics for decades

The 75-year-old has been a dominant figure in Papua New Guinea politics since the late 1960s.

He was prime minister from 1975 until 1980, and again from 1982 until 1985.

He returned to power in 2002 after a violent and chaotic election, and was re-elected as prime minister after the 2007 polls.

He was suspended in April 2011, during his fourth term as prime minister, on charges of irregularities over financial returns.

He is the eldest son of a policeman and known to be proud of his ethnic identity and culture.

More Asia stories

RSS

Features & Analysis

Elsewhere on the BBC

  • planesEnd of the line

    The vast ‘boneyards’ that are home to thousands of aircraft that have come to end of their flying days

Programmes

  • A screenshot from Goat SimulatorClick Watch

    The goat simulator which started as a joke but became a surprising hit, plus other tech news

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.