PRIME Minister Peter O’Neill will not relinquish his position and is firm to remain despite challenges from within the ranks of his ruling Peoples National Congress party amid the pending no confidence vote against his leadership on May 28.
It was reported that some former ministers have claimed that they have asked him to put the Prime Ministership on the table but he had refused resulting in their defection to the Opposition.
After the Tuesday Parliament sitting, the Prime Minister was asked to confirm the claims.
Brushing aside the claims, Mr O’Neill said: “They have not asked me to step down as Prime Minister, but they have issues about party leadership, which obviously means that whoever is the leader of the party takes on the responsibility of the prime minister.
“Those who have defected, not one single one of them have contested for the leadership.
“We have had discussions quite frankly in our own party about leadership issues and I have told the party that I don’t have to be the leader to lead our party, but in their wisdom they have reaffirmed my position as the leader of the party.”
When asked if he was willing to resign, Mr O’Neill said: “I don’t respond to and am not obligated to answer to one individual Member of Parliament.
“I have a caucus, and with the caucus if it is within their wisdom of course, we have no issues with that.
“But the caucus has reaffirmed the leadership of the party to me so I have a responsibility to put the Government together and to make sure that we lead it for the best interests of the country.
“I I have been leading this party for close to twenty years.
“And certainly one day there will be a change, and the change will be done as these issues will be decided at our party convention in 2021, one year before the elections.
“So I urge all the young leaders that are going to aspire for leadership roles in our party to put your name up and the party caucus and the party convention will decide and that person who will lead us to the elections in 2022.”
On the vote of no confidence, the Prime Minister said it will go through the process.
“There is a Parliamentary process, and we will deal with it when it comes.
“But I also want to inform the Nation that there is a constitutional reference filed by the Opposition on the validity on the day in which the Prime Minister was elected after the 2017 elections.
“And also there is a Supreme Court reference by the Government, joined by the Opposition, and by the Speaker and the Parliament.
“Those references regarding invitation questions about the law and the invitation to form Government, the invitation to remove Government, and who should be able to qualify to nominate if there is a vote of no confidence.
“So the Supreme Court will guide us and set those rules once and for all, so that we are not arguing like we have done today in Parliament about some lawyers trying to teach Members of Parliament legal skills.
“So let’s leave the judges to determine that,” he said.