Papua New Guinea: From Coup to Reconciliation

Issue Date January 2013
Volume 24
Issue 1
Page Numbers 165-171
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Papua New Guinea has been described as a ‘fragile state’, though it has maintained an unbroken record of democracy—at least up till August 2011. In that month, while Prime Minister Somare was on extended medical absence the National Parliament declared the prime ministership vacant and elected a new prime minister, Peter O’Neill. The Parliament’s actions were challenged and the Supreme Court subsequently upheld the challenge, but O’Neill ignored the Court’s ruling, creating an impasse with two claimants to the office of prime minister. A national election in mid-2012—which O’Neill’s group sought to postpone—eventually resolved the situation. O’Neill became prime minister, and, in an odd twist, Somare joined the coalition government.

About the Author

R.J. May is an emeritus fellow of the Australian National University and senior associate of its State, Society, and Governance in Melanesia Program.

View all work by R.J. May