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O’Neill’s to-do list

PETER O’Neill as Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea should expect a full on year in 2016, having starved off for now attempts to haul him before the country’s leadership tribunal, or force him out of office through a confidence motion in the national parliament. The new year may offer prosecutors more time to look at their legal options, while O’Neill may just have the time to look into consolidating his rule in the lead-up to the country’s general elections planned for 2017.

Attempts to impeach the PNG leader, and the latter’s use of his legal options to challenge the attempt impeachment took up most of his time the past 12 months. His administration also had several public run ins with its former colonial master over the Asylum Processing Centre on Manus Island in PNG’s northern most borders, as well as over the autonomous region of Bougainville.

2016 may see these issues flaring up now and then, keeping the Prime Minister and his government busy and distracted. How the O’Neill government implement the “integration” of refugees on Manus into the rest of the country in PNG will be a tricky exercise. Done insensitively, it can degenerate into a quagmire of legal and social controversies. Media reports in Australia are already reporting that many refugees on Manus are not keen to re-settle in PNG.

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