A Papua New Guinea lawmaker facing domestic violence charges in Australia will resign during trial

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WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — A minister in Papua New Guinea government charged with alleged domestic abuse in Australia will resign while a trial is underway against him, the country’s prime minister said.

Police in the Australian state of New South Wales said in a statement A 58-year-old man was arrested and charged Saturday after a domestic dispute in Sydney. A 31-year-old woman he knew suffered facial injuries following the altercation, the statement said.

Australian authorities did not name Oil Minister Jimmy Maladina as a suspect, but his identity was widely reported by news organizations in Papua New Guinea and Australia.

Maladina “offered to step aside” from his post as oil minister “while he deals with the complaint being heard in court in Australia,” Papua New Guinea’s prime minister said James Marape said in a written statement on Sunday.

Marape would appoint an acting minister, he added. He did not confirm details of the arrest or alleged attack.

Maladina is due to appear in court on Thursday on charges of assault causing bodily harm. He is currently out on bail, police said.

He did not respond to requests for comment from The Associated Press. In comments attributed to him by Papua New Guinea news organizations, Maladina said he was aware of the reports of his arrest and was “fully cooperating with authorities.” He did not say whether he would defend the charges.

On Tuesday, Papua New Guinea opposition leader Douglas Tomuriesa urged the prime minister to dismiss Maladina or request his resignation rather than allow him to step aside temporarily.

“Although Maladina will not be performing his ministerial duties, he will still be paid for them,” Tomuriesa said in a written statement.

Maladina, a former lawyer and member of Marape’s Pangu Party, became a lawmaker in 2022 and was appointed a minister in January. Marape tasked him with boosting the developing country’s efforts to capitalize on its natural gas resources.

He is a key ally of Marape, who faced political unrest in May when 18 members of his party defected to the opposition in parliament in an attempt to force a vote of no confidence in the prime minister.

The attempt to hold the vote was deemed illegal. Parliament will reconvene in September.

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