In April 2019, James Marape’s resignation and subsequent orchestration of a successful Vote of No Confidence (VoNC) against Prime Minister Peter O’Neill reshaped Papua New Guinea’s political landscape. As the nation faces the possibility of another VoNC, examining the events of 2019 provides valuable insights into the Vote of No Confidence 2024. Here’s a closer look at the specific details surrounding the:
- tabling of the VoNC,
- lobbying period, and
- final VoNC session.
James Marape’s Resignation
James Marape’s resignation as the finance minister and a key People’s National Congress (PNC) Party member marked the beginning of significant political shifts. Citing “trust issues” with Prime Minister Peter O’Neill, Marape’s decision set the stage for potential leadership changes.
The summary table shows the chronological order of these events, highlighting key moments, the politicians involved, and the time it took from one significant development to the next.
It highlights the intricate developments, the involvement of key political figures, and the duration between events that led to the successful VoNC in 2019.
(PNG Insight followed the VoNC 2019 closely and recorded the events on the PNG Insight Blog.)
|11th April 2019
|Finance Minister James Marape resigns, setting the stage for significant political shifts.
|Hon. James Marape
|28th April 2019
|Prime Minister Peter O'Neill returns to PNG from China.
|Prime Minister Peter O'Neill
|29th April 2019
|James Marape officially leaves the People’s National Congress, citing a lack of confidence in PNC party leader and PM O'Neill.
|Hon. James Marape, Charlie Benjamin, Saki Soloma
|2nd May 2019
|People's National Congress resolves to back Peter O'Neill as Prime Minister in the upcoming VoNC.
|3rd May 2019
|Pangu Pati members split, causing chaos. Dr Alan Marat cautions Speaker against adjourning Parliament prematurely.
|Pangu Pati members, Dr. Allan Marat, Speaker Job Pomat
|6th May 2019
|Laguna Camp names James Marape as Alternative PM. Major reshuffling of PNC government ministerial portfolios.
|Hon. James Marape, Richard Maru, Sam Basil, Elias Kapavore, Lekwa Gure, William Onglo, Chris Nangoi, Tomait Kapili
|7th May 2019
|Parliament meets for 2 hours to table the Motion of VoNC in the PNC Gov't leadership. PM Peter O'Neill confident in having the numbers.
|Prime Minister Peter O'Neill, Hon. James Marape, Patrick Pruaitch
|13th May 2019
|Major reshuffling of PNC government ministerial portfolios. Sir Puka Temu resigns from PNC and returns to "Our Development Party."
|Sir Puka Temu, Douglas Tomuriesa, Richard Maru, Sam Basil, Elias Kapavore, Lekwa Gure, William Onglo, Chris Nangoi, Tomait Kapili
|14th May 2019
|Deputy Prime Minister Charles Abel announces continued support for Peter O'Neill. Laguna Camp reviews agreements by O'Neill-Abel Government.
|Deputy Prime Minister Charles Abel, Laguna Camp
|15th May 2019
|Attorney General Alfred Manase applies for a Stay Order on the VoNC Motion to uphold the rule of law. Pangu Pati members show support for the Alternate government.
|Attorney General Alfred Manase, Pangu Pati members
|19th May 2019
|PNG’s Attorney General applies for a stay order to stop the looming VoNC motion. Opposition interprets it as a delay tactic.
|Attorney General Alfred Manase, Opposition
|24th May 2019
|William Duma's United Resources Party moves to the Opposition. Mori moves to the alternative government.
|William Duma, Wera Mori
|25th May 2019
|Three days before the VoNC, the PNC-led government has 49 members, while the Alternate Government claims to have 62 MPs.
|26th May 2019
|Conference by Sir Julius Chan moved to Crowne Hotel, where PNC-led coalition is camped. Peter O'Neill steps down as Prime Minister, Sir Julius Chan takes over.
|Sir Julius Chan, Peter O'Neill
|28th May 2019
|VoNC voting session initially scheduled for 7 days, extended to 21 days. Parliament Speaker Job Pomat refuses to entertain Opposition motion to remove him. Supreme Court application by O'Neill adjourned.
|Job Pomat, Opposition, Supreme Court
|29th May 2019
|Peter O'Neill resigns as Prime Minister. James Marape elected as the new Prime Minister with 101 votes.
|Peter O'Neill, Hon. James Marape
Vote of No Confidence Motion
Following Marape’s resignation, the VoNC motion was tabled in the parliament on May 7, 2019. The motion, driven by Marape, aimed to remove Peter O’Neill as Prime Minister. This initiated a period of intense lobbying and strategic manoeuvres.
In the lead-up to the VoNC, various moves were made to deter its successful passing. The government attempted to sway votes through promises of financial incentives, sought legal interpretations, and utilised delaying tactics to address technical aspects.
The Speaker, aligned with the government, played a role in this strategy.
Vote of No Confidence 2024: 2019 Lessons
Initially scheduled for 7 days after the tabling of the motion, the VoNC voting session was extended to 21 days by the parliamentary privilege committee. On May 28, 2019, the parliament’s final voting session took place. Marape’s strategic moves and support from opposition MPs and defecting PNC members led to the successful passing of the motion, resulting in Peter O’Neill’s removal as Prime Minister.
Current Political Situation
The recent unrest and declaration of a State of Emergency (SOE) raised concerns about the potential VoNC in February 2024. The political climate and security situation may impact the scheduled session, adding a layer of uncertainty to the proceedings.
In the wake of the unrest in Port Moresby Chuave MP Hon. James Nomane has publicly called for the resignation of Prime Minister James Marape. Concurrently, the Southern Bloc has withdrawn its support for the existing government.
The upcoming parliamentary session scheduled for February 2024 holds significant importance. See the 2024 sitting date. The Marape/Rosso government will test the trust and confidence placed in them by the people through their MPs.
The looming Vote of No Confidence in PNG’s current government mirrors the political landscape witnessed in 2019. The specifics surrounding the tabling, lobbying, and voting sessions provide valuable lessons. However, the current unrest and State of Emergency declaration introduce additional complexities. This has now compounded the unpredictability that may shape the outcome of this closely watched event.