James Marape re-elected as PNG Prime Minister after tumultuous election

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James Marape re-elected as PNG Prime Minister after tumultuous election

James Marape has been returned as Papua New Guinea's prime minister for its 11th parliament after a fraught and violent election period that has run for about six weeks.

In the year 2019, Marape became Prime Minister after he sacked his predecessor and former party leader Peter O Neill was invited to form the government by the governor general after his Pangu Pati secured 36 seats and was able to strike deals with coalition partners to bring its numbers to more than 80.

O Neill had hoped to reclaim the top job, but was left disappointed after only 14 members were declared for his rival People's National Congress PNC party.

The new parliament sat for the first time on Tuesday, despite the counting of votes continuing in 11 seats, and Marape was voted in as prime minister 97 votes for and none against. O Neill left the chamber before the vote took place.

As shown on Tuesday, Marape reassured Papua New Guinea that his party was not for one region, not for one family, not for one person but belongs to this country, I want to give comfort to every Papua New Guinean wherever they are, as shown by the floor of parliament where 100% of the members showed up to vote for the mandate, and that the coalition was secure because we went to the elections as partners, he said.

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese issued a congratulations and tweeted: Congratulations James Marape on your re-election as Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea. The relationship between Australia and PNG is special: we are neighbours, friends and family. Australia is committed to working with the PNG government to deepen our bilateral relationship and tackle shared regional challenges. O Neill said he left the chamber in protest at the fact that parliament had sat and decided on a prime minister while counting was still under way in some seats.

I did not vote for Marape because I can't support a leader not properly elected by the people in their electorates, O Neill said. I can't vote for what is wrong. My party MPs were given the chance to vote on conscience when I walked out. O Neill had filed an urgent application seeking orders to prevent the parliament from sitting this week, arguing that for parliament to be called there has to be a declaration of all 118 seats. The supreme court refused to issue the orders, ruling that there was no urgency in the application.

The election was plagued with violence, with 50 death related deaths reported by the end of July. There were reports of voter fraud, ballot boxes being destroyed and candidates taking over polling stations. Up to a million people were believed to have been disfranchised due to the electoral roll not being updated in a decade.

The new PNG parliament has female representation for the first time since 2017. Two women have been elected central governor Rufina Peter and Rai Coast MP Kessy Sawang. They are only the eighth and ninth female MPs elected to Parliament in PNG's nearly 50 year history.