Papua New Guinea's rival prime ministers

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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

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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.

Image caption,
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.