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Papua New Guinea

Yearbook 2011

Papua New Guinea. According to Countryaah official site, Papua New Guinea's usually turbulent politics hit a record during the year, when the country gained two competing governments. In January, Parliament elected Acting Governor-General Michael Ogio to be permanently in office.

2011 Papua New Guinea

Prime Minister Michael Somare returned in January after being temporarily suspended during an investigation into allegations that he failed to fulfill his duties. After a few months, he was temporarily shut down, but when he returned in April, the 75-year-old Somare failed to show up for health reasons. Seriously ill, he operated abroad and told him to leave politics for good.

Somare's ally, former Foreign Minister Sam Abal, was appointed acting prime minister. He tried to strengthen his position by dismissing two ministerial rivals. In August, Parliament then decided to declare the Prime Minister's post vacant and formerly elected Finance Minister Peter O'Neill as new permanent head of government.

Sam Abal considered that Parliament's decision was contrary to the Constitution, and in collaboration with Somare he appealed the decision in court. O'Neill and his allies tried with the help of doctors to prove that Somare's illness made him unable to lead the country and that a permanent head of government could thus be elected. But Somare and Abal said that Somare's recovery from heart, lung and kidney operations showed that he could have continued to lead the country until the elections in 2012. Somare also appealed a decision by the Speaker of Parliament to take away his parliamentary mandate. The Supreme Court would decide the disputes at the end of the year.

The conflict was aggravated when the government was accused of wanting to dismiss the chief judge in the Supreme Court and thus influence the court's ruling. The government claimed that the chief judge misjudged the court's finances and was involved in dusk deals and conflicts of interest. The Supreme Court issued arrest warrants against the Deputy Prime Minister and the State Prosecutor for court clashes. Both were arrested but released on bail pending trial in December.

The opposition demanded that the Speaker of Parliament should resign and be prosecuted for court-martial, after he banned another member. According to the prosecutor, the President had been guilty of a court order.

In October, at least 15 people were killed in ethnic strife between two tribes in Kainantu in Papua New Guinea's eastern highlands. Firearms and knives were used, and a village was burned down. In November, at least two people were killed during a few days of violence in Papua New Guinea's second largest city Lae on the north coast, where crime is widespread. A gang protesting against the crime relied on highland residents who were blamed for the crime. Before the police got the riot under control, at least a thousand people had become homeless by burning down their homes.

In December, the Supreme Court declared that the deposition of Sam Abal and the election of Peter O'Neill as prime minister had been in violation of the Constitution. According to the court, Michael Somare was to be re-elected as head of government. However, Parliament refused to follow the verdict and re-elected O'Neill. But Somare formed a government that was installed by General Governor Michael Ogio. Then Parliament decided to oust Ogio and appoint an acting Governor-General, who in turn installed O'Neill as head of government. Thus, the country had two governments. When Ogio later declared that he incorrectly installed Somare as prime minister, Parliament re-elected Ogio as governor general. At the end of the year, Peter O'Neill was Papua New Guinea's head of government.

Thanks to the high gold prices, the country's GDP was estimated to grow by about 8% during the year. Nearly one-third of GDP was created through the production and sale of gold.

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