DP2017/6 Papua New Guinea under the O’Neill Government: Has There Been a Shift in Political Style?

SSGM Discussion Paper

Author/s (editor/s):

R.J. May

Publication year:


Publication type:

Discussion paper

In 2011–12 Papua New Guinea suffered its most serious constitutional crisis since independence, when the incumbent prime minister, Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare, was effectively removed from office in a ‘political coup’ by members of parliament whose actions were subsequently ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. The political impasse of this period, in which two people laid claim to the office of prime minister, was finally resolved in mid-2012 following a scheduled national election. But it is arguable that the damage done in 2011 to the institutions of Papua New Guinea’s democratic system was not entirely undone in 2012 and that political developments since 2012 give some cause for concern. This paper briefly recounts the events of 2011–12 and looks at political developments under the O’Neill government which came to power following the 2012 election.

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