Papua New Guinea

Australian Broadcasting Corporation via AP

James Marape, the new prime minster of Papua New Guinea, has placed leading members of the opposition  into key positions in his cabinet. The appointments suggest that the new administration may be serious about reform.

foreignminister.gov.au

On Sunday, Peter O’Neill announced plans to quit as Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, but opposition leaders say they won’t believe it until he actually delivers a signed resignation to the Governor General.

foreignminister.gov.au

Prime Minister Peter O’Neill will face a motion of no confidence later this month in Papua New Guinea. Several members of parliament have switched to the opposition in the past week or so, complaining about a huge new natural gas project.

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37 world leaders gather in Beijing this week for a Belt and Road Summit. Addressing concerns about China’s goals, Foreign Minister Wang Yi told reporters last week that the huge infrastructure project is not a “geopolitical tool.” But China’s economic clout inevitably builds political influence.

Nightstallion / Wikimedia Commons

Australia and Papua New Guinea have signed a memorandum of understanding to develop a joint naval base on Manus Island. The United States has also agreed to participate in what’s described as part of the effort to push back against China’s growing influence.

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Authorities in Papua New Guinea are hunting a notorious outlaw whose been leading attacks on police in Milne Bay province. Following a prison escape, Tommy Baker has been blamed for armed robberies, piracy and murder but some blame the local police.

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A long running corruption case in Papua New Guinea may have concluded this week, when all charges against the lawyer at the center of the scandal were dropped. The case also involved Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and other government officials.

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An annual report on the state of civic freedoms around the world has downgraded two countries in the Asia-Pacific for interference with freedom of the press. A generally upbeat assessment by the watchdog group Civitas put seven Pacific countries in the “open” category and highlighted Malaysia as a “bright spot.” China and North Korea were again listed as “closed,” while Nauru and Papua New Guinea joined Fiji as “obstructed.”

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A scathing analysis of this year’s general elections in Papua New Guinea found widespread fraud, intimidation and violence. 204 people died, and hundreds more were seriously injured or maimed.

United Nations

Another referendum on independence will be held in the South Pacific, this one on the island of Bougainville, It’s tentatively scheduled for next June, when voters will be asked if they prefer more autonomy from the central government of Papua New Guinea, or full independence.

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40 custom- built Maseratis arrived in Port Moresby on two charted 747s late last week – the luxury cars were bought by the government of Papua New Guinea to serve as VIP transport during next month’s APEC summit and the splurge has attracted criticism.

Photographer's Mate 1st Class Michelle R. Hammond / U.S. Navy

Over the summer, Australia moved to block the development of potential Chinese military facilities in Fiji and Vanuatu; now media reports say that Australia will build a naval base of its own in a Pacific Island nation.

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade / gallery.foreignminister.gov.au

Earlier this year, Hawaiʻi joined the Polynesian Leaders Group, a sub-regional organization in the Pacific modeled on the Melanesian Spearhead Group. But the MSG is having its problems and the Foreign Minister of Vanuatu now says the organization is failing.

U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Jesus McCloud / https://www.dvidshub.net/image/2688346/koa-moana-162

After violence in two provinces, the government of Papua New Guinea has sent half its army into the Central Highlands. The deployment of 440 troops is a major commitment, and they face a complicated series of problems.

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A State of Emergency has been declared in Papua New Guinea’s Southern Highlands Province. Last week, rioters burned a commercial airplane, the courthouse and the home of the provincial governor.

ZTE Com, Ltd / Wikimedia Commons

As you’ve probably heard over the last few weeks, Chinese phone giant ZTE is caught up in controversial negotiations as part of President Trump’s on-again off-again trade war with China. This week, an Australian news agency reports that ZTE bribed the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea to win a contract back in 2010.

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In a speech in Australia, Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister rejected a report that said ExxonMobil’s huge natural gas project had failed to live up to promises. Peter O’Neill dismissed the report as “fake news” – though he also admitted that he hadn’t read it. We have more from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute.

asopa.typepad.com

Last December, it looked as if Prime Minister Peter O’Neill had evaded a long running corruption charge when the Papua New Guinea Supreme Court quashed an arrest warrant. But now the lawyer at the center of the case has filed civil charges against the Prime Minister and others. We have more from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute.

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade / Wikimedia Commons

Officials in Vanuatu are still assessing the damage from last weekend’s Cyclone Hola. At least one person was killed by a falling tree. To the east, the government of Tonga extended the state of emergency that’s been in force for a month since Cyclone Gita caused widespread damage there. And more than a hundred people are reported dead from an earthquake that devastated the highlands of Papua New Guinea two weeks ago. We have more from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute.

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Papua New Guinea’s Kokoda Track is open again, after local landowners ended a protest that closed the famous trail for three weeks. According to RNZ Pacific, the government agreed to review the joint aid program with Australia, which manages the track. We have more from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute.

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

The Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea warned that the referendum on independence in Bougainville may not go ahead. The vote is the last step in an agreement that brought an end to a bloody, ten year civil war on the island. We have more from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute.

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

Last month, Prime Minister Peter O’Neill won a chaotic and sharply contested election in Papua New Guinea, over an energized opposition that accused O’Neill’s government of corruption and mismanagement. But after starting the new parliament with a sharply reduced majority, O’Neill drew in a steady stream of defectors. And yesterday, the largest party in the opposition alliance crossed the floor to join the government…we have more from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute.

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

Over the weekend, an asylum seeker was found dead on Manus Island. The fifth man to die in the care of Australia’s off-shore detention camp in Papua New Guinea. PNG officials say he hanged himself, but fellow asylum seekers and refugee advocates say it’s too soon to rule out foul play. We have more from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute.

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While several seats remain to be decided, members of parliament in Papua New Guinea re-elected Peter O’Neill as Prime Minister. The vote followed a chaotic election, a contentious count and, as we hear from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute, one final drama.

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

After chaotic weeks of voting in Papua New Guinea, counting the ballots has proceeded slowly and the deadline to return results has been extended to Friday. Observers from the Pacific Islands Forum found alarmingly large numbers of names missing from electoral rolls and there are allegations of hundreds of thousands of ghost voters …we have more from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute.

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

The governments of Australia and Papua New Guinea are finally acting to close the notorious detention facility on Manus Island. But none of the asylum seekers has been resettled so far, and hundreds are refusing to relocate to a transit facility. We have more on the story from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute.

Nightstallion / Wikimedia Commons

A closely watched and heated national election has begun in chaos across much of Papua New Guinea. The process is scheduled for two weeks, but polling days have already been pushed back in the capital and some highlands provinces and  many voters can’t find their names on official election rolls…we have more from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute.

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

A major turning point in the plight of detainees on Manus Island yesterday, when Australia agreed to settle a class action lawsuit, for $530 million. Almost two thousand men will share the compensation. We have details from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute.

Flickr / theglobalpanorama
Flickr / theglobalpanorama

The government of Papua New Guinea announced plans to close and demolish the controversial Australian Detention camp on Manus Island. About 900 men have been held there without charge for four years after trying to get to Australia by boat. We have more from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute.

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

The man regarded as the father of his nation gave a farewell address to the parliament of Papua New Guinea this week. Sir Michael Somare helped write the constitution and served as PNG’s first Prime Minister after Independence…we have more from Neal Conan in the Pacific News Minute.

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