Papua New Guinea is a country located in Oceania as shown
Abbreviationfinder. The weak economy drove the government
to propose savings programs at the beginning of the year.
meant halving the military forces. The plan triggered mutiny
among soldiers, who, without using force, demanded the
resignation of the government. Prime Minister Mekere Morauta
then withdrew his proposal, but the demands for his
departure did not remain silent. Demonstrating students and
workers condemned budget cuts and planned privatizations
that were expected to lead to increased unemployment.
Despite the protests, Morauta was able to increase
government support in Parliament. Groups from other parties
and independent members were attracted to Morautas party,
the People's Democratic Movement (PDM), which in May was
able to present the first single-party majority in the
history of the Papuan Parliament.
Out-of-parliamentary unrest flared up again in June with
student protests in Port Moresby against government policy.
When the riot police tried to disperse the protesters,
violence erupted and at least three people were killed and
about twenty injured. According to eyewitnesses, it was the
police that opened fire on the crowd. The government issued
a curfew in the capital, but the protests continued and were
followed by new police efforts. The government then
appointed a commission to investigate the shooting deaths.
In July, Parliament convened after a seven-month break.
Prime Minister Morauta had, at the end of last year, left
the members home to July 2001 to avoid a vote of no
confidence, which must not be raised during the first 18
months of a government and not the last year before the
general election. Morauta received harsh criticism for the
maneuver, which however succeeded.
The peace process on the island of Bougainville was
successful during the year. After several years of
negotiations, the Papua New Guinea government and
representatives of Bougainville in August signed a peace
agreement that formally ended the civil war, which is
estimated to have claimed about 20,000 lives. Papua New
Guinea promised strong financial support to the war-torn
island, but the country's weak economy made the promises
uncertain. The peace agreement provides for Bougainville's
autonomy and a future referendum on independence, which
requires the Papua New Guinea government to receive support
for the peace agreement in parliament in 2002.
At the end of the year fierce fighting broke out between
two tribes in the southern highlands. By New Year, at least
36 people were reported to have died in the war, which was
fought with modern handguns and therefore required more
casualties than traditional tribal battles.