Papua New Guinea - Leadership



Somare is revered as a founding father of independent PNG, with his portrait on the currency, and his voice recognized by everyone in the country with a radio. He has long been considered above corruption and a unifying force for the nation; some believe that he has mystical powers. As an administrator, he has shown the ability to attract good politicians and specialists to serve with him, and has taken steps to encourage the participation of more women in government. Still, he is always vulnerable to parliamentary challenges, having lost his prime ministership twice before to no confidence votes. His coalition-building skills have been needed more than his legendary eloquence, as the 2002 elections were terribly flawed and the coalition government (13 parties plus numerous independents) remains unstable. Indignation over invalidated election results in the resource-rich but violence-plagued Southern Highlands has increased threats of civil conflict and sabotage, while economic viability depends on the goodwill of the international community. Somare's return to office initially gave many Papua New Guineans hope for a return to the times when the country was new and unburdened by modern problems. It will be difficult even for such a respected figure to fulfill such hopes.

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