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Papua New Guinea

Yearbook 2009

Papua New Guinea. In January, presidential elections were held on the autonomous island of Bougainville since the previous president's death. The new president was elected James Tanis, who led Bougainville's revolutionary army in the previous civil war.

2009 Papua New Guinea

According to countryaah, Papua New Guinea fought against increased corruption and a deepening economic crisis with unemployment of up to 80 percent in major cities. It contributed to dissatisfaction facing Chinese organized crime but also against Chinese businessmen. In May, violent riots erupted with looting in the capital Port Moresby and in Lae as well as in the highlands, aimed primarily at Chinese businessmen. Several looters were shot dead by police. Prime Minister Michael Somare condemned the violence against the Chinese, saying it was rooted in corruption within the police and immigration authorities. In June, a few thousand protesters took part in a protest in Port Moresby against the corruption in the country. The protest was led by General Governor Paulias Matane. Papua New Guinea was ranked by Transparency International as the most corrupt country in the Pacific region.

The opposition led by former Prime Minister Mekere Morauta in July attempted to oust Somare's government, which it considered incapable of governing the country. Several of the coalition's members went to the opposition. If a vote of no confidence were to be held, the government managed to avoid it by obtaining a majority to postpone Parliament's work to November, formally for the necessary reconstruction of the parliament building. It sparked a bitter debate in which the opposition accused Somare of breaking the constitution and threatening democracy.

Police and the judiciary struggled during the year against a wave of murders linked to the belief in magic and sorcery. In one case, a young woman had been burned in a fire after she was accused of being a witch. Two other women were reported to have been stoned to death after being charged with sorcery and for causing the death of several people. The trials in such cases were cumbersome, as cohesion in the villages prevented people from testifying against the guilty.

A filling election in the western highlands in November turned violent. At least three casualties were claimed in the riots and hundreds of people, mostly electorate and police, were held hostage for a few days.

In December, ExxonMobil signed an agreement with a Chinese oil and gas company on 20 years of gas sales from Papua New Guinea to China. About two million tonnes of liquefied gas are to be delivered each year.

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