James Marape has been elected the new Prime Minister (PM) of Papua New Guinea (PNG).
With the formal resignation of Peter O’Neill as leader on Wednesday after a series of defections from his party over the recent weeks, all 111 members of the nation’s parliament took the House floor yesterday morning to choose a new leader.
Officially voted in as PNG’s new prime minister by his colleagues 101 to eight, Marape called on all sides to unite.
“Members of both sides of the House responded to me and my nomination and that is a testament to the view held by many leaders of our country, that there is a need to work in common unity and that is good for our country,” he told reporters after being sworn in by the governor general.
“I am just one man, but the assurance I can give the nation is that I will try my best to mobilise talents.”
Talents from the ranks of government, talents from the ranks of opposition, but most importantly the talents of the great Papua New Guineans out there.”
One of the most senior figures in PNG politics, Marape hails from the highland region of Hela Province and previously served as finance minister under O’Neill, before resigning in April.
He was the first senior cabinet minister in O’Neill-led government to resign from office, which then sparked a chain of other members to move to the opposition block.
With heavy pressure mounting on O’Neill’s leadership and a vote of no confidence motion pending, the embattled statesman was forced to resign, leaving the door open for a new prime minister.
Despite the political upheaval of recent weeks, Marape thanked O’Neill for his service to the nation and lauded his courage to step down as leader.
“He had every arsenal within his power to fight off the challenge, but he chose to respond to the call of the majority of members of parliament,” Marape said.
“He went out as a hero,” he added. –Xinhua