Tari Pori son makes it to the top

Forty-eight year old James Marape from Paipali village Tari in the new Hela province registers himself in the political history books of Papua New Guinea as the eight Prime Minister.

A son of a Seventh Day Adventist elder and pastor, he was yesterday overwhelmingly voted by Parliament registering 101 votes in the 111 seat Parliament.

Mr Marape the eldest has four other siblings among them only one female.

He attended Minj Primary School in Jiwaka and later Kabiufa Adventist Secondary School in the Eastern Highlands during the early part of his education.

He later attended the University of Papua New Guinea gaining a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1993 and further attained a postgraduate Honours Degree in Environmental Science in 2000.

He recently graduated with a Masters of Business Administration from the same university.

In his highest public service career, he served as acting assistant secretary for policy with the Department of Personnel Management from 2001 until 2006 and later entered Parliament.

He also worked in the private sector with Hides Gas earlier on.

A third term politician, he defeated eight votes against him yesterday favouring former Prime Minister and Moresby Northwest MP Sir Mekere Morauta.

Parliament voted for him replacing Peter O’Neill after two months of unstable political climate under the leadership of Peter O’Neill with many defections, back-flips and resignations of government ministers who were bitter about how the government was being run.

James Marape apparently started the mission to replace Peter O’Neill by rattling the Cabinet when on April 11, 2019 he resigned as Finance Minister.

He was then also leader of government business.

Peter O’Neill subsequently tendered his resignation to Governor General Sir Bob Dadae at 9.45am on Wednesday, May, 29, 2019 after conceding that he did not have the numbers to lead commanding only 42 MPs and there was imminent dissent and motion of a vote of no confidence against him was looming.

O’Neill’s resignation effectively rendered any motion invalid as there was already a vacancy in the office of Prime Minister and Parliament subsequently voted Marape a day later.

After being sworn in at government house by the Governor General Sir Bob Dadae yesterday, Marape presented his maiden speech in Parliament as Prime Minister admitting to the leaders there were mammoth tasks ahead in addressing development challenges and fixing the economy.

He told Parliament that on his way to be sworn in at Government House yesterday there was much jubilation on the streets but he was reminded that he has a huge responsibility a head.

“This is a privilege I don’t take for granted and I humbly accept on behalf of my wife, children, tribe, Tari-Pori, and Hela I am greatful,” he said.

“I acknowledge all the past Prime Ministers for what they have done some of those men are still serving their country.”

“Among us you have a pool of leadership and wisdom I am encouraged by the fact that there is strength and stamina among this house,” he added.

In acknowledging the wealth of experience, among his government coalition he said he would immediately appoint his Cabinet.

Marape is not new to politics, he first entered Parliament after the 2007 national general elections as a National Alliance party member.

He defeated former Tari-Pori MP Tom Tomiape and under Sir Michael Somare as Prime Minister he first served as parliamentary secretary for Works, Transport and Civil Aviation.

He was also given additional responsibilities as Deputy Chair of the Privileges Committee and member of the Parliamentary Referral Committee on Inter-government relations.

A year later he was appointed Minister for Education in 2008 and held that ministry until the controversial overthrow of Sir Michael Somare as Prime Minister on August 2, 2011.

In February 2012 Marape joined the People’s National Congress party led by former Prime Minister Peter O’Neill.

He won the June 2012 national general elections for the second term representing the people of Tari-Pori and again in 2017.

After both elections which the People’s National Congress party under Peter O’Neill successfully installed government, he served as Finance Minister for seven years- the period of time Peter O’Neill was Prime Minister and he yesterday succeeded him.

The ride to be Prime Minister though was not plain sailing.

There had to be intense lobbying and political marriages and break ups but he appeared to have commandeered a following of 28 MP’s who committed to him and when the vote was taken, it shot up to 101.

He is now the chief government minister of Papua New Guinea and as he admitted it comes with more responsibility for the nation and if he hadn’t said it, he had to also juggle this with his family life- attending to six children and wife Rachel.

In Parliament, he said his government would perform a diagnostic analysis of how the country has been functioning with an emphasis on “taking back the economy” and looking at resource laws.

He has three years to lead as Prime Minister before the next general elections in 2022.

The previous longest serving Prime Ministers were Sir Michael Somare 2002 to 2011(9 years) and Peter O’Neill 2011 to 2019 (8 years).

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