‘Take Back PNG’: Prime Minister Marape and his audacious vision for PNG
By Bal Kama The contentious reign of Prime Minister Peter O’Neill ended on 30 May 2019 with the election of James Marape as Papua New Guinea’s (PNG) new Prime Minister. Since his elevation to Prime Minister in 2011, O’Neill proved an effective tactician, overcoming numerous attempts to unseat him through the parliament, in courts, and on the streets through protests. While O’Neill deserves credit for significant infrastructure developments and hosting of international events that arguably brought prestige to PNG, his legacy, like many of his predecessors, is shrouded in controversy.
The election of Prime Minister James Marape occurred amidst a political climate clouded by concern that the nation would continue on a negative trajectory. In response to the country’s difficult circumstances, Marape’s appointment demanded three tasks of him. First, to stabilise a divided government; second, to establish himself as a transparent and approachable national leader, including reassuring citizens of a break with the practices of the O’Neill government; third, to set a new direction for the country.
Marape achieved the first task – stabilisation – by forming a highly inclusive ministerial team. The ministerial team is composed of outspoken MPs from the Opposition, as well as representatives from almost all the political parties, including that of Peter O’Neill.
As for the second task of establishing himself as a transparent and approachable leader, Marape, to date, has applied a number of different strategies. One significant undertaking was to promptly invite the Ombudsman Commission to table the report into the UBS Loan that implicated both Peter O’Neill and Marape himself, in Parliament. The O’Neill government suppressed the report. Marape, on the other hand, welcomed the report and has even promised to resign if the forthcoming independent Commission of Inquiry (COI) finds him to have acted illegally. Some felt the Ombudsman Commission’s report was adequate …read more