James Marape

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James Marape
Marape in 2023
9th Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea
Assumed office
30 May 2019
MonarchsElizabeth II
Charles III
Governor‑GeneralSir Bob Dadae
DeputyDavis Steven (2019–2020)
Sam Basil (2020–2022)
John Rosso (2022–present)
Preceded byPeter O'Neill
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Assumed office
12 May 2023[1]
Prime MinisterHimself
Preceded byJustin Tkatchenko
Minister of Finance
In office
August 2012 – 11 April 2019
Prime MinisterPeter O'Neill
Preceded byPeter O'Neill
Succeeded bySam Basil
Minister for Education
In office
16 December 2008 – 2 August 2011
Prime MinisterMichael Somare
Member of the National Parliament of Papua New Guinea
Assumed office
Preceded byTom Tomiape
ConstituencyTari-Pori District
Personal details
Born (1971-04-24) 24 April 1971 (age 52)
Tari, Southern Highlands Province, Territory of Papua and New Guinea
(now Hela Province, Papua New Guinea)
Political partyPangu Party (2019–present)
Other political
People's National Congress (2012–2019)
National Alliance Party (2007)
People's Progress Party (2002)
SpouseRachael Marape
Alma materUniversity of Papua New Guinea

James Marape (born 24 April 1971) is a Papua New Guinean politician who has served as the prime minister of Papua New Guinea since May 2019. He has been a member of the National Parliament of Papua New Guinea since July 2007, representing the electorate of Tari-Pori Open in Hela Province in the New Guinea Highlands. He has held Cabinet Posts as Minister of Education (2008–2011), Minister of Finance (2012–2019), and Minister of Foreign Affairs (2023–present).[1][2] Marape entered the 2022 elections under the banner of the Pangu Party and won more seats than any other party. He was therefore entitled to form the government. His new government was elected unopposed by the new parliament.[3]

Early career[edit]

Marape was born in 1971 in Tari, Hela Province (then in Southern Highlands Province). He attended Minj Primary School and Kabiufa Adventist Secondary School in the PNG highlands. Marape graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Papua New Guinea in 1993, and a postgraduate Honours Degree in Environmental Science in 2000.[2]

He has a background in managerial functions. From 1994 to 1995, he was Officer in charge at the PNG Institute of Medical Research, Tari Branch. From 1996 to 1998, he was Operations Manager of GDC at the Hides Gas project. After obtaining his honours degree, he became Acting Assistant Secretary of Policy with the Department of Personnel Management from 2001 to 2006.[4]

Political career[edit]

Marape with Fumio Kishida in 2022

His entry into politics was tumultuous. Marape first contested the Tari-Pori seat at the 2002 election for the People's Progress Party, when voting in the Southern Highlands Province was cancelled due to widespread violence.[5][6] He contested the supplementary election in 2003 but lost to incumbent MP Tom Tomiape in a contest marred by the bashing of a polling official by his supporters.[7][8] He challenged the result in the Court of Disputed Returns, but both his initial petition and a subsequent appeal were rejected.[9][10][11] He contested the seat for a second time at the 2007 election and defeated Tomiape.[11] He won the subsequent parliamentary elections in Tari-Pori (2012 and 2017). He obtained in 2017 50%+1 of the vote (30,192 votes) and this is unusual in PNG's Limited PV system.[12] A challenge by the second runner up Justin Haiara was dismissed by the National Court.[13]

Prime Minister Michael Somare gave him major parliamentary responsibilities after his win in 2007: Parliamentary Secretary for Works, Transport and Civil Aviation, Deputy Chair of the Privileges Committee and member of the Parliamentary Referral Committee on Inter-Government Relations. He was Minister for Education from 16 December 2008 to 2 August 2011. He was then a member of Somare's National Alliance Party. In February 2012, he left the National Alliance Party and joined the party of Prime Minister O'Neill, the People's National Congress (PNC). O'Neill appointed him as Minister of Finance in 2012.[2]

On 11 April 2019, he resigned as Minister of Finance but remained a member of People's National Congress and the Government.[14] He resigned from the party on 29 April 2019. Sam Basil was appointed as Minister for Finance on 18 April 2019.[15]


Marape with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in 2022

On 17 May 2019, the Ombudsman Commission recommended a leadership tribunal to judge O'Neill and Marape on the UBS loan to acquire shares in Oil Search Limited.[16] That was mentioned as the reason for Marape's replacement as alternate MP by Patrick Pruaitch on 28 May 2019. Marape introduced Patrick Pruaitch as alternate MP and declared that the vote for Pruaitch was by consensus.[17] Peter O’Neill had then resigned as Prime Minister on 26 May.[18]

Marape emerged from the succession struggle with 26 MPs who returned to the PNC from opposing parties. As a result, the opposition did not have the numbers anymore for a vote of no confidence.[19] The resignation of O'Neill necessitated the election of a new Prime Minister. Marape obtained in the subsequent election 101 votes as compared to 8 for Mekere Morauta.[20] O'Neill expected that his Cabinet would continue unchanged. However, during a reshuffle on 8 November Marape replaced most of the Cabinet Ministers. O'Neill continues to be critical. He opposes especially Marape's view of the economy. He stresses that Marape is as responsible for the state of affairs as O'Neill: he was minister of finance.[21]

In February 2024, Marape became the first leader of a Pacific Islands nation to address the Australian Parliament.[22]

Attempted vote of no confidence[edit]

On 10 November 2020 Marape was confronted by an attempt to topple him from power. A motion of no confidence in the Marape government could be mounted after 30 November as the grace period for a new cabinet expired then. A motion by Belden Namah was accepted (57–39) to adjourn Parliament to 1 December with the intention to mount a vote on such a motion.[23][24] Those who voted with Namah, 55 in number, went in a so-called "camp" in Vanimo, the constituency of Belden. They comprised among others of 11 Cabinet ministers, 3 ex Prime Ministers and 4 ex Deputy Prime Ministers, Marape retorted by starting a "camp" on Loloata island near Port Moresby. Fifty three MP went with him. At that time there were 110 elective members of parliament and the competition was therefore close.[25]

Marape resorted to well known tactics. First, he used an interpretation of the rules of parliament. Namah's motion was accepted with the deputy speaker, Koni Iguan, in charge. He joined the camp in Vanimo.[26] Speaker Job Pomat then overruled the motion by Namah on the grounds that only a Minister is allowed to propose a parliament adjournment, Parliament was recalled and on 17 November -with the opposition absent in Vanimo- the budget for 2021 was passed. Marape argued that it could not wait because it had to function in international negotiations. Job Pomat, the speaker, supported throughout the procedures the Marape government. Parliament was then adjourned until April 2021. Second, the Private Business committee of parliament is crucial to get a vote of no confidence on the agenda. Namah had in his initiative replaced the members of that committee with supporters in the opposition. Marape reversed this and brought his own supporters on the committee in the session of 17 November.[27]

Peter O’Neill had fronted with Namah the opposition movement and brought a case before the Supreme Court to declare the budget sitting on 17 November unconstitutional. The Supreme Court ruled in his favour and the decisions taken then were invalid. The Speaker recalled parliament on 14 December.[28] The most important issue in this meeting was filing a motion of no confidence with the Private Business committee by Belden Namah. The opposition proposed Patrick Pruaitch as alternate Prime Minister. In that session the opposition had support of 55 members as compared to 32.[29]

The vote of no confidence was never tabled when parliament reconvened on 16 December, Eighteen MPs crossed the floor from the opposition to the government benches and therefore brought the government's support to 70, a solid majority. Sam Basil, the previous deputy prime minister went back to his old place. The competition for alternate prime ministership between Patrick Pruaitch and Sam Basil had been decided in favour of the former to the dismay of Basil and his followers. They returned in protest to the government benches.[30] It was perceived as an attempt to regain power by the old guard.[31] Marape presented a confident New Year's Message in which he also stressed the generational change in PNG politics. He also said that the old guard had a record in which there was little to be proud of.[32] Marape entered the 2022 elections under the banner of Pangu Party and won 38 of the 115 seats declared. O'Neill's PNC was the runner up with 16 seats. Marape was elected unopposed as Prime Minister. He was as leader of the largest party entitled to form the government and left his cabinet virtually unchanged. His new government was elected unopposed by the new parliament.[33][34]

In 2024, another vote of no confidence was proposed by the opposition, but stalled after the attorney general went to the Supreme Court while it was being debated by a parliamentary committee on 14 February.[35]

Personal life[edit]

James Marape is a member and leader of the Huli people, one of the country's largest tribes and ethnic groups. Marape's father was a Seventh-day Adventist pastor with Marape identifying with the church as well.[36] Marape is married to Rachael Marape, who is originally from East Sepik Province. The couple have six children.[37][38]

On being sworn in, Marape said he wants Papua New Guinea to be "the richest black Christian nation" in the world.[39]


  1. ^ a b Faa, Marian; Srinivasan, Prianka; Kora, Belinda (12 May 2023). "Papua New Guinea's Foreign Minister Justin Tkatchenko steps aside". ABC News. Retrieved 28 June 2023.
  2. ^ a b c Hon. James Marape Available at: http://www.parliament.gov.pg/index.php/tenth-parliament/bio/view/tari-pori-district Posting not dated. Accessed: 10/05/2020
  3. ^ "James Marape returned as PNG's prime minister after tense election". ABC News. 9 August 2022. Retrieved 11 November 2022.
  4. ^ The Governments of Papua New Guinea Port Moresby (2012) Port Moresby: IMPS research Available in Australian National Library BibID 1644345
  5. ^ Bunpalau, Wesley. "PPP names 78 for poll". Papua New Guinea Post-Courier, 28 March 2002.
  6. ^ Rheeney, Alex. "SHP candidates urged to await new elections". Papua New Guinea Post-Courier, 12 August 2002.
  7. ^ "Tomiape wins Tari-Pori seat". Papua New Guinea Post-Courier, 5 May 2003.
  8. ^ "Death threat and bashing for election official". New Zealand Herald, 5 May 2003.
  9. ^ "Tari-Pori petition thrown out". Papua New Guinea Post-Courier, 25 October 2004.
  10. ^ "Court dismisses bid to re-open petition". Papua New Guinea Post-Courier, 3 May 2007.
  11. ^ a b "Marape Elected Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea". Papua New Guinea Today (in Indonesian). Retrieved 11 November 2022.
  12. ^ Freddy Mou, Marape retains seat in Tari Pori http://www.looppng.com/elections/marape-retains-seat-tari-pori-62430 Accessed: 10/05/2020
  13. ^ Sally Pokiton Tari Pori petition dismissed. Available at: http://www.looppng.com/png-news/tari-pori-petition-dismissed-79114 Posted on: 24/08/2019 Accessed: 10/05/2020
  14. ^ "James Marape resigns as finance minister". Papua New Guinea Post-Courier. 11 April 2019. Archived from the original on 29 May 2019. Retrieved 29 May 2019.
  15. ^ "Basil replaces Marape as new Finance Minister". Papua New Guinea Post-Courier. 18 April 2019. Archived from the original on 29 May 2019. Retrieved 29 May 2019.
  16. ^ "PNG leadership rivals O'Neill, Marape both implicated in UBS loan saga | Asia Pacific Report". 17 May 2019. Retrieved 29 February 2024.
  17. ^ "Pruaitch is alternate PM". postcourier.com.pg. 28 May 2019. Retrieved 11 November 2022.
  18. ^ "Papua New Guinea's prime minister, Peter O'Neill, resigns". the Guardian. 26 May 2019. Retrieved 11 November 2022.
  19. ^ PNG Breaking News: Marape rejoins Peter O'Neil with 28 MPSAvailable at: https://www.facebook.com/pngbreakingnews/posts/2122420501199890? Posted on: 28/052019 Retrieved 27/04/2020 Accessed: 10/05/2020
  20. ^ "Marape sworn in as country's 8th PM". postcourier.com.pg. 30 May 2019. Retrieved 11 November 2022.
  21. ^ Bernard Yegiora PNGs confusing budget debate available at: https://www.lowyinstitute.org/the-interpreter/pngs-confusing-budget-debate Posted on 10/10/2019 Accessed on: 10/05/2020
  22. ^ "Papua New Guinea Prime Minister James Marape urges Australia to not 'give up' on his country in historic parliament address". ABC Australia. 8 February 2024. Retrieved 11 November 2022.
  23. ^ "Papua New Guinea stands by for new government after MPs abandon James Marape". the Guardian. 13 November 2020. Retrieved 11 November 2022.
  24. ^ "Opposition successfully moves to adjourn parliament to December 1". postcourier.com.pg. 13 November 2020. Retrieved 11 November 2022.
  25. ^ "List of Parties and MPs as of 16th November 2020". postcourier.com.pg. 14 November 2020. Retrieved 11 November 2022.
  26. ^ "What transpired in the House". postcourier.com.pg. 15 November 2020. Retrieved 11 November 2022.
  27. ^ "Parliament passes budget bills in lightning session, then adjourns until April 2021". Business Advantage PNG. 17 November 2020. Retrieved 11 November 2022.
  28. ^ Second, the Private Business committee of parliament is crucial to get a vote of no confidence on the agenda. Namah had in his initiative replaced the members of that committee with supporters in the opposition. Marape reversed this and brought his own supporters on the committee in the session of 17 November
  29. ^ "Showdown – The National". www.thenational.com.pg. Retrieved 11 November 2022.
  30. ^ "Marape holds on to power in PNG's game of political musical chairs". RNZ. 16 December 2020. Retrieved 11 November 2022.
  31. ^ Street Buzz: Old guards fading in the horizon Available at: https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?id=111086040705235&story_fbid=172518521228653 Posted on: 16/12/2021 Accessed on: 15/2/2021
  32. ^ James Marape,Seasonal Christian greetings to you Papua New Guneans https://covid19.info.gov.pg/index.php/2021/01/02/new-year-message-by-prime-minister-hon-james-marape-mp-30-december-2020/ Posted on: 2/1/202 Accessed on: 15/2/2021
  33. ^ "PNG election: Pangu leads, PNC jolted". Islands Business. 3 August 2022. Retrieved 11 November 2022.
  34. ^ "PM names 33-member cabinet". www.thenational.com.pg. Retrieved 11 November 2022.
  35. ^ "Motion of no confidence in PNG PM James Marape stalled". RNZ. Retrieved 23 February 2024.
  36. ^ "Who is James Marape, 8th PM of PNG?". SBS News. Retrieved 11 November 2022.
  37. ^ "First Lady Rachael steps into focus". postcourier.com.pg. 30 May 2019. Retrieved 11 November 2022.
  38. ^ "Marape's wife vows to support husband – The National". www.thenational.com.pg. Retrieved 11 November 2022.
  39. ^ "Papua New Guinea sets audacious goal to become 'richest black Christian nation". The National. 16 June 2019. Retrieved 15 July 2019.

External links[edit]

National Parliament of Papua New Guinea
Preceded by
Tom Tomiape
Member of the National Parliament
for the Tari-Pori District

Political offices
Preceded by Minister of Finance
Succeeded by
Preceded by Minister of Foreign Affairs
Preceded by Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea