Marape returns as Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea


James Marape is elected Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea unopposed, as the country’s 11th National Parliament sits for the first time. In his acceptance speech, he outlined his government’s priorities in its new term.

Parliament has elected James Marape as Prime Minister unopposed, 97 votes to none, confirming that PNG’s new national government will be formed by a coalition of political parties led by Marape’s PANGU Pati [Party].

The vote follows the formal invitation, made by PNG’s Governor-General Sir Bob Dadae for Marape to form government, given the PANGU party is the largest single party in the new Parliament.

The first day of National Parliament was delayed from last week after the writs from PNG’s National Elections were delayed from 29 July to 5 August.

Prime Minister James Marape. Credit: Office of the Prime Minister

The election results are still not complete. Writs covering the election of 105 out of 118 seats were tabled at today’s the first sitting, meaning 13 seats remain to be filled.

After no female MPs were elected to PNG’s 10th Parliament, the new Parliament will contain at least two female MPs: Rufina Peter, who was elected the new Governor of Central Province and Kessey Sawang (Rai Coast Open electorate in Madang Province).

The new Speaker of the Parliament was elected unopposed: Job Pomat, the member for Manus Open.

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New government to take shape

With Marape again Prime Minister, the process of forming government and allocating portfolio responsibilities within PNG’s cabinet – the National Executive Council – will now take place.

The victory can be interpreted as an acceptance by the electorate of the policies Marape introduced when he replaced previous Prime Minister Peter O’Neill following a vote-of-no-confidence in May 2019 on a ‘Take Back PNG’ platform designed to deliver more of the country’s mineral wealth into local hands.

As per PNG’s Constitution, the new Marape government now has a 18-month grace period before it can face a vote-of-no-confidence in Parliament.

Back in the driver’s seat

In his acceptance speech, Prime Minister Marape told Parliament he was ‘back in the driver’s seat’.

‘This government is not a new government, although it is a new term of Parliament. This government is continuing government, Mr. Speaker, we started the journey in 2019,’ he said. He reminded Parliament of his stated aim, made in 2019, of making PNG ‘richest black Christian nation on earth’.

‘We went to the elections to fight to get more from our natural resources … We will ensure we plough it back into the key enabling investments in the health, education and infrastructure.’

He said a review of the National Elections should take place, after an election period characterised by significant delays, social unrest and administrative hiccups.

‘We must build strong governance oversight arrangements for the Electoral Commission … We must seriously address possibly biometric I.D. system, possibly electronic voting system and counting system, to eradicate the many manual human inputs in a system of elections that we’ve had.

‘That’s why I also want to commit to our country national population census associated with electoral reform will be conducted as early as 2023.’

He also committed the government to building a ‘resilient economy’, with the national budget getting back to a surplus ‘as early as 2027.’

Industry reforms

Marape highlighted the government’s commitment to the Connect PNG infrastructure program and reform of state-owned enterprises, to ensure they ‘are not all always depending on cash from our national budget, but sometimes into the distant future, they are able to stand on their own two feet and serve our country better in their functions’.

He also reaffirmed the government’s commitment to reforming the regime for the country’s mining and petroleum sector.

‘In 2020, I told all the investors, especially in the mining and gas sector, by 2025 we would be going into a new regime in as far as resource laws are concerned. Without harming your rate of return on investment, your bottom line, your profit margin will be maintained. But Papua New Guinea too must get a little bit more.’

‘Let me also say in the agriculture in the forestry, in the fisheries. This government and our generation will start the serious progress towards downstream processing.

‘Papua New Guinea must be an exporter of processed produce that God has placed in our country: our fish, our timber, our agriculture, our oil and gas, our gold, gold refinery, gold bullion, our metals.’

Mare also promised a stronger focus on PNG’s law and justice sector, more places for higher education and greater resources in the healthy sector.

Land reform was also flagged, with the goal of enabling land owners to monetise their land ‘so that they too can use that as a resource base to improve their own lives going forward.’

Finally, he also suggested that the question of independence for Bougainville would be resolved by some form of plebiscite.

‘No member for Tari on my own can decide on the sovereignty of our total union. I want to assure our citizens and friends in Bougainville this matter will be put to the country.’


  1. KAVIX jack says

    HON – James Marape,I would like to take this time to wish you all the best to take Papua New Guinea forward. With fearless confident i trust you with your governments. May our good lord guide you and help you lead this nation of Papua New Guinea

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