Papua New Guinea. It was yet another tumultuous political
year in Papua New Guinea. In January, a retired colonel made
a coup, captured the commander with the help of some 20
soldiers and declared himself commander of the armed forces.
The reason for the coup was the dispute from the previous
year about who was the legal prime minister, Peter O'Neill
or Michael Somare. When the commander-in-chief, who
supported O'Neill, was deposed, the coup chief declared that
Somare was now the country's new head of government. The
coup attempt was defeated by the army and the mythists were
arrested. The soldiers were promised amnesty when they put
down their weapons, but the coup chief was tried and charged
countryaah, Somare claimed his claim to be the legitimate prime
minister and referred to the Supreme Court ruling before the
New Year. O'Neill, however, had the support of the military,
police and administration and refused to resign.
Parliament decided in April that the planned
parliamentary elections should be moved from June to
December on the grounds that more preparation was required.
The opposition refused to accept the decision, and after
pressure also from Australia, the government decided that
the election should be held as planned in June.
In May, the Supreme Court reiterated its 2011 decision
that O'Neill was illegally elected by Parliament and that
Somare was the rightful prime minister. The Chief Judge was
then indicted for revival, and after dramatic days of
political chaos, Parliament held new elections for the Prime
Minister's post. The only candidate was Peter O'Neill, and
he was elected.
Michael Somare announced that he would not stand as a
candidate in this year's parliamentary elections but that he
would run an election campaign for his party, the National
Alliance. Somare had then sat in Parliament for 43 years and
been the head of government for three periods between 1975
and 2011. The decision not to stand in the election meant
that the conflict with O'Neill over the Prime Minister's
post was over.
The election lasted for two weeks from the end of June,
and after the drawn-out vote, it was clear that Prime
Minister O'Neill's party of the People's National Congress
won by a quarter of the vote and 27 out of 89 seats. O'Neill
managed to gather support from a number of smaller parties,
from independent members and also from his old rival Michael
Somare's party, the National Alliance, which got 7 seats in
the election and decided to join the new government. O'Neill
and Somare buried the battle ax, and when Parliament
approved O'Neill as prime minister, he was supported by 94
members while only 12 voted against.
In October, Papua New Guinea agreed that Australia should
place asylum-seeking refugees in camps on the island of
Manus, north of the Papuan mainland.