Port Moresby   (GN)  Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O’Neill stalled his announced resignation and took legal action to prevent a vote of no confidence Tuesday, deepening the country’s political crisis.

The veteran leader launched what appeared to be a last-gasp bid to cling on to power, pressing the Supreme Court to thwart a planned parliamentary vote to remove him from office.

Facing mounting criticism, O’Neill on Sunday announced that he would step down, but has so far avoided formally submitting his resignation to the country’s governor general.

O’Neill -- who has been in power since 2011 -- is battling for his political life after a string of cabinet resignations sparked by his signing a multi-billion-dollar liquefied natural gas (LNG) deal with France’s Total and US firm ExxonMobil earlier this year.