Papua New Guinea’s Parliament has returned Prime Minister James Marape to power following elections in the South Pacific island nation.
Marape was sworn in as prime minister for a second time on Tuesday after legislators in the new parliament returned him unopposed to the post, according to media and election authorities.
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Voting in Papua New Guinea’s general election began on July 4 and ended on July 22 but vote counting was extended until Monday because of special circumstances including security issues, attacks on ballot boxes and logistical challenges, the electoral commission said.
The leading contenders to lead the new government had been Marape and his predecessor who resigned in 2019, Peter O’Neill.
The election in the Pacific nation is among the world’s most challenging due in part to difficult terrain, extreme weather, poor transport infrastructure, and linguistic and cultural diversity.
The national poll was also plagued by violence, delays, fraud allegations and large numbers of voters missing from the electoral roll, international election observers said.
On Tuesday, the deadline for parliament to sit, 105 out of 118 seats had been declared. Two women were among those elected.
Marape, the leader of the Pangu Party that clinched 36 seats, won 97 votes on the floor of parliament to become prime minister and will form a coalition government with more than a dozen minor parties and independents.
Marape, who first became prime minister in 2019, said the coalition had a collective mandate and called for the nation to unite.
Media have reported roughly 50 election-related deaths this year, down from 204 deaths documented in the 2017 vote. Marape apologised last month to thousands of people who have been turned away from polling stations because of problems with the electoral roll.
Gaining independence from Australia in 1975, Papua New Guinea is a diverse tribal society of nine million people who are mostly subsistence farmers and speak more than 800 languages.