James Marape, re-elected Papua PM after violent elections

Sydney, Australia, Aug 9 (EFE).- Papua New Guinea’s parliament elected Prime Minister James Marape for a second five-year term Tuesday, after his Pangu Pati party won last month’s controversial and violent general elections that left dozens dead.

“The member of Tari-Pori, the honorable James Marape, has been elected prime minister,” said Job Pomat, the Papuan House of Representatives’ speaker, announcing the elections’ result, according to images broadcast on social media by the EMTV network.

Marape’s party, which won 36 of the 118 seats that make up the Papuan parliament, will govern in coalition – as has been the trend since that nation became independent from Australia in 1975 – along with more than 15 political formations and independent legislators.

According to the Papuan newspaper The National, Marape’s coalition will be represented by 80 legislators in the 11th Papuan Parliament, where the winner of 14 seats has yet to be determined due to problems in counting votes in those jurisdictions.

Recent elections in Papua New Guinea, which took place between Jul. 4 and Jul. 22, were marked by violent episodes throughout the nation and tainted by allegations of fraud, theft and the burning of ballot boxes by voters over the frustration about delayed results.

At the center of the electoral violence was the province of Enga, in the mountainous areas of northern Papua, where dozens were killed during the elections due to tribal clashes and friction due to political rivalries, local media reported.

Electoral violence such as what occurred in 2017 when more than 200 people died, are common during elections in Papua, a country rich in natural resources, but where a large part of the population lives in extreme poverty and is isolated by communication problems, especially in remote areas.

Marape’s election in Papua, which became independent from Australia in 1975, is of particular importance in the Pacific after the signing of a security pact between China and the Solomon Islands in April. This has raised fears in Australia and the United States over China’s expansion in the strategic Pacific region.

Marape, who took the reins of the Papuan Executive for the first time in May 2019 amid a political crisis that cost Peter O’Neill his job, said in June that the relationship with Beijing is “solid and strong” as Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi visited the region. However, his country also depends on Australia’s help. EFE


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