Papua New Guinea's Prime Minister Peter O'Neill speaks at an electricity projects signing ceremony during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in Port Moresby. O'Neill resigned on May 26, 2019. (Photo: AFP)
Embattled Papua New Guinea (PNG) Prime Minister Peter O'Neill announced his resignation in the capital city of Port Moresby on Sunday, after a series of ministers defected from his cabinet.
With a pending vote of no confidence scheduled for Monday, the leadership challenge was expected to gain the majority support of MPs and as a result, O'Neill cited the parliament's "need for change" as the reason for his departure.
Holding the office since 2012 and overseeing the success of last year's APEC summit, O'Neill has handed over the leadership to former Prime Minister Julius Chan, local news station EMTV reported.
"We are a government that listens to the people," O'Neill told a media conference. "We have achieved quite a substantial amount of development. But all good things come to an end."
"It is important that we maintain a certain amount of stability. We have heard the calls and we have agreed for a change of government," he added.
Beginning with the resignation of former finance minister James Marape in April, a chain of other government MPs followed and the group eventually tabled a vote of no confidence against O'Neill.
While the government battled to hold on to it's majority in the 111-seat parliament, further defections on Friday appeared to suggest the opposition block now had 62 MPs on board - enough to secure victory in their leadership challenge.
With no room to move, it is expected that O'Neill's departure will be made official in the coming days, when he submits a letter of resignation to the country's governor general.
"We will provide the numbers for the stability of the country, we will do so because we respect the people," O'Neill said.
"I will be visiting the governor general to make sure that we pave way for a new government and a new leadership of a new government."
In the meantime, veteran PNG politician and former Prime Minister Julius Chan, has taken control of the leadership.
"The strength of the government is not about numbers. It's the transition of power from one government to another in tranquility and smoothness," Chan said.
"I want to thank the prime minister, Peter O'Neill, for all that he has done to bring this country today."
"Men and women of Papua New Guinea ... we have very short memories. Tomorrow you will look back and see all the things that he has done. But like life itself, you just got to move on," Chan added.