MP For Kiriwina-Goodenough Douglas Tomuriesa Says The Re-Election Of The Peter O’Neill As Prime Minister Is A Demonstration Of The Vote Of Confidence In His Leadership.
MP for Kiriwina-Goodenough Douglas Tomuriesa says the re-election of the Peter O’Neill as Prime Minister is a demonstration of the vote of confidence in his leadership.
Mr Tomuriesa said this will ensure there is continuity of the work that Mr O’Neill and the previous government had carried out in the past five years. “I thank the people of PNG who have seen the confidence in the government of Prime Minister Peter O’Neill,” he said.
“I think it is important for continuity. I think it is also important that our partners and the business organisations can find confidence that the government can continue in the programs.”
Mr Tomuriesa said despite the country facing tough times economically, stability is needed to move forward.
“Papua New Guinea is going through a lot of tough times, speaking economically and other factors that are affecting our country. But we know that stability is important for us to continue,” Mr Tomuriesa said.
Peter O’Neill, Papua New Guinea’s prime minister, was placed back in office when the country’s parliament reconvened on Wednesday following national elections. O’Neill received 60 votes from newly elected parliamentarians, with 46 voting against. He will now begin a second five-year term, but with a significantly decreased majority.
Parliament was recalled even though results from only 106 of 111 seats had been declared. With the remaining seats still to be confirmed, the final shape of parliament is yet to be determined. A high number of electoral petitions is expected also in the court of disputed returns.
The hasty reconvening of parliament by Governor-General Bob Dadae was undoubtedly designed to legitimise the deeply undemocratic and disputed election, and intended to quash widespread popular anger over its outcome. Dadae had already invited O’Neill to form a new government last Friday, when more than a quarter of official returns were still outstanding.
The parliamentary vote was held despite objections of some legal figures, who said Electoral Commissioner Patilias Gamato did not follow the law during the return of the election writs. Speaker Job Pomat declared that since O’Neill’s Peoples National Congress Party (PNC)—of which Pomat himself is a member—gained the highest number of seats, his nomination met legal requirements.
O’Neill earlier declared that the PNC had negotiated an agreement with the Peoples Progress Party, the United Resources Party and the Social Democratic Party to form a coalition government.
The two-week voting period that ended on July 8 was dominated by vote-rigging, the wholesale omission of names from the electoral roll, ballot box-tampering and bribery. The Electoral Advisory Committee members charged with overseeing the election all resigned, accusing the Electoral Commission of not allowing them access to basic information.
Australian academic and former PNG treasury advisor, Paul Flanagan, told Radio Australia on July 18 that by comparing the electoral rolls with 2011 census figures, he found rolls had been inflated by nearly 300,000 false names. The “ghost” voters were mainly concentrated in electorates controlled by the PNC.
In the weeks following the close of polling, hostility to the conduct of the elections erupted in protests and violent incidents over accusations that vote counting was hijacked. Towns in several Highlands provinces remain in lockdown following shootings between rival factions in which several people were killed.
Protestors in Mt Hagen last week crowded the town’s streets, calling on the Electoral Commission to account for what they said was an illegal early declaration, with dozens of ballot boxes still left to count. The protests sparked fighting and forced the closure of businesses and disruptions to the airport. Demonstrations also have taken place recently in the capital Port Moresby over counting delays in the city’s three electorates.
The turmoil is an expression of the explosive social tensions produced by the austerity policies imposed by the O’Neill government over the past two years. O’Neill seized office in 2011 by ousting his predecessor Michael Somare in an illegal parliamentary coup supported by Canberra, which regarded Somare as too close to Beijing.
O’Neill has clung to power in the face of struggles by students and workers over inequality, corruption and the country’s deepening social crisis. The government has increasingly turned to police-state measures to suppress opposition.
International observer teams criticised the running of the election. The Pacific Islands Forum’s team noted large numbers of citizens were prevented from exercising their constitutional rights to vote despite “high levels of civic awareness and interest in participating in the election.”
The official observers stopped short of supporting calls by opposition leaders to force the Electoral Commission to declare the election officially “failed” and conduct a new one.
Despite the widespread electoral fraud, O’Neill’s government has seen its majority slashed. The PNC has so far won 25 seats—down from 55 in the previous parliament. Prominent government figures, particularly those responsible for massive expenditure cuts, have been ousted. These include Deputy Prime Minister Leo Dion, former parliamentary speaker Theo Zurenuoc, Fisheries Minister Mao Zeming, Health Minister Michael Malabag, Petroleum and Energy Minister Nixon Duban, and Youth and Community Development Minister Delilah Gore.
None of the opposition parties, however, offer any alternative for working people. A coalition headed by the National Alliance (NA) with the second largest number of seats in the parliament, and backed by the Pangu Party and the PNG Party, has attacked O’Neill from the right, accusing him of bankrupting the country and not going far enough in slashing budget spending.
The NA was a coalition partner in the previous O’Neill government and bears responsibility for its savage austerity measures. NA leader Patrick Pruaitch was sacked as treasurer shortly before the election. He had belatedly tried to distance himself from the government by attacking the PNC for “mismanaging” the economy. The NA campaigned as part of the opposition, demanding an end to government borrowing.
The new government will immediately confront a deepening fiscal crisis. The Midyear Economic and Fiscal Outlook from the Treasury is expected to reveal a deficit one billion Kina ($US309 million) larger than that forecast in the budget seven months ago. After five years of the biggest deficits in PNG’s history, public debt has blown out from K21 billion to K25 billion—or from 29 percent of gross domestic product to 34.5 percent.
Like its predecessors, the incoming government will carry out the requirements of the international banks and transnational companies that dominate the country’s economy and dictate terms to the country’s dependent capitalist class. It will intensify the attack on the living standards of working class and rural masses, and the police-military repression of opposition and unrest.
Washington and the regional powers, Australia and New Zealand, will be watching closely. All have vital commercial and strategic interests in the country and are seeking to maintain their hegemony in the southwest Pacific against Beijing’s growing economic and diplomatic influence.
28-year-old man reportedly killed during the incident in Deiya regency, with up to seven wounded, including two children
Indonesian paramilitary police have shot and killed one person and wounded a number of others at a protest in a West Papuan village, according to human rights groups and local witnesses.
A 28-year-old man was reportedly killed during the incident in Deiya regency on Tuesday afternoon, and up to seven wounded, including at least two children.
The regency’s parliament has reportedly called for the arrest of the officers involved, and for the withdrawal of the police mobile brigade, known as Brimob.
The incident began after workers at a nearby construction site refused to assist locals in taking a man to hospital, after he was pulled from the river.
After a five hour delay in sourcing another vehicle the man died on his way to hospital, according to local sources. Angry relatives and friends protested against the construction company, allegedly attacking a worker’s camp – believed to be primarily from Sulawesi – and destroying some buildings.
Authorities were called to the protest, and Associated Press reported police alleged protesters kidnapped a worker, which protesters denied.
“The joint forces of police, mobile brigade police and army officers came. Did not ask questions but shot several youths,” Father Santon Petege told West Papuan information site, Tabloid Jubi.
“There were no warning shots at all,” witness, Elias Pakagesaid. “Officers immediately fired on the unarmed villagers.”
A human rights lawyer investigating the case, who requested to remain anonymous, also said there was no verbal warning from authorities, and she labeled the incident an extrajudicial killing.
“When they arrive they just shoot. They used guns and violence and shoot directly,” she said.
Unconfirmed reports said 17 people were shot by the police mobile brigade, including the deceased man and a number of children.
Pictures purported to be of the victims and seen by Guardian Australia show deep bullet wounds.
According to local media, police denied they shot directly at the protesters, but rather at the ground and hit four people after warning shots failed to calm the situation.
here are frequent reports of violence and mass arrests by authorities against West Papuans, the indigenous people of an Indonesia-controlled region on the western half of an island shared with Papua New Guinea, and which has battled for independence for decades.
But information is difficult to verify, largely because of the restrictions on foreign media.
In 2015 Indonesian president Joko Widodo announced the lifting of the media ban for the province, but in reality, government clearing houses vet media visits and maintain restrictions. Two French journalists were deported earlier this year for reporting without the required visa.
The Jakarta Post on Wednesday called for the government to open up the province to the world’s media, noting the significant gains made by a “relentless” independence campaign.
It argued Jokowi should stop hiding his government’s purported improvements and developments in the region.
“At almost every turn, we are being outmaneuvered by campaigners who want to see Papua separate from Indonesia. And yet the Indonesian government has done very little to counter it,” it said.
“By maintaining this restriction, the government is operating like a paranoid regime, afraid the outside world may find the skeletons it hides in its closet. If the government has done much to improve the lives of Papuans, why not show it to the world?”