Peter O’Neill sworn in as PNG leader following election marred by protests and vote-buying allegations

A coalition led by the PM’s People’s National Congress secured 60 seats in the 111-seat parliament, local reports said

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 02 August, 2017, 5:50pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 02 August, 2017, 10:04pm

Peter O’Neill has been sworn in for another five-year term as Papua New Guinea’s prime minister following a volatile and drawn-out election marred by violence and allegations of vote-buying.

A coalition led by O’Neill’s People’s National Congress secured 60 seats in the 111-seat parliament, local reports said, with five yet to be counted. No single party has ever won a majority and alliances are common in PNG politics.

“Now that we have formed government, we won’t be discouraging the views that are different to ours,” O’Neill told parliament on Wednesday.

“We will be a government that listens more, talks less and works harder at every opportunity.”

Papua New Guinea goes to the polls as prime minister urges voters to keep the peace

Two weeks of polling across the vast and remote country ended on July 8, but not without controversy.

Many voters complained that their names had been left off the electoral roll. Students torched ballot papers in the country’s second largest city of Lae, protesting that not enough had been issued at their university.

Polling was delayed for several days in the capital Port Moresby after officials went on strike over unpaid allowances.

One of O’Neill’s main opponents, Don Polye’s Triumph Heritage Empowerment Party, reportedly accused leaders of one constituency of “deliberately and openly rigging the election”.

Observers claim Papua New Guinea’s election was flawed but acceptable

O’Neill, who won the last election in 2012, hailed this year’s vote as “calm and peaceful”, although monitors from the Commonwealth Observer Group called for a review of electoral processes, particularly given the prevalence of vote-buying allegations.

The new government will face challenges including an economy hurt by slumping commodity prices, widespread allegations of corruption and communal violence among a vast tribal population.

The PNG leader has vowed to improve the quality of education, health care and infrastructure as well as reviewing the electoral process.