The BGA Team, led by Senior Adviser Amb. Ian Kemish, wrote an update to clients on the recent violent and unrest in Papa New Guinea


  • Port Moresby in Papa New Guinea witnessed riots and violent protests on January 10. A police strike over an unexpected pay discrepancy, previously ignored by government officials, ignited the unrest. The prime minister and government ministers have dismissed allegations that the pay shortfall was the result of a deliberate decision to adjust tax thresholds.
  • The chaos, fueled by the absence of police, led to arson in shopping centers, rampant looting and a wave of vehicle thefts and home invasions. Although the riots were short-lived, the impact is felt as investor confidence drops, threatening the stability of Prime Minister James Marape’s government.


  • Political ramifications for the Marape government will become clearer over the coming weeks. The timing of the protests come at a cost as the constitutional window to challenge the prime minister in Parliament commences next month. While Marape enjoys a large majority in Parliament, the government’s leadership is at risk especially if momentum builds around an alternative leader.
  • While Marape may face some heat in Parliament early next month, it is likely that he will survive a vote of no confidence. A lack of consensus around Marape’s successor means that the Parliament has no capable individual that they trust to address the country’s underlying problems.


  • While shops and businesses have resumed operations, investor confidence has taken a serious hit amid a heavy military presence. Nearly 200 police officers were redeployed to Port Moresby from other regions of the country on January 10 to restore order and security. Local businesses remain wary, and several community groups have condemned the violence.
  • True to PNG standards, Marape is leveraging existing relationships with high-ranking officials and making promises about appointments and resource allocation. In a strategic move, Marape reshuffled his cabinet on January 19, assuming leadership of the Treasury, while Peter Tsiamalili Jr now solely oversees police. Ano Pala has been shifted to National Planning, replaced by Muguwa Dilu, a newcomer from Marape’s party. These shifts are minor, but Ian Ling-Stuckey’s reassignment to an assistant role could create discontent. Marape will also address the Australian Parliament on February 8 at Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s invitation, a first for a Pacific leader, which could impact his domestic reputation.

BGA will continue to keep you updated on developments in Papua New Guinea. If you have any questions or comments, please contact BGA Senior Adviser Amb. Ian Kemish at