Papua New Guinea, Government
British sovereign, government branches, Legal Services Commission, National Executive Council, Commonwealth of Nations
Papua New Guinea is governed under a 1975 constitution. As a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, the country’s head of state is the British sovereign, who is represented by a governor-general appointed by the sovereign on the recommendation of Papua New Guinea’s parliament. Legislative power is vested in the unicameral National Parliament (formerly the House of Assembly), which is made up of 109 members who are popularly elected to terms of up to five years. Voting is universal for all citizens age 18 or older. The main executive body, the National Executive Council, is responsible to parliament. A prime minister presides over the council and is the head of government. The governor-general appoints and dismisses the prime minister on the recommendation of the National Parliament. The governor-general also appoints and dismisses ministers of the National Executive Council on the recommendation of the prime minister.
Since Papua New Guinea gained independence from Australia in 1975, the country’s politics have been relatively unstable. There are numerous political parties, and many parliamentarians have only mild party loyalty; loosely formed coalition governments have fallen apart several times. Major political groups include the Pangu Pati, the People’s Progress Party, the Melanesian Alliance, the National Party, and the People’s Democratic Movement. There are also numerous smaller political parties.
Papua New Guinea’s judicial system is independent of other government branches. The highest tribunal is the Supreme Court, which handles matters of constitutional interpretation. The National Court deals with civil and criminal cases. Lesser judicial bodies include district, local, and wardens’ courts. The head of state appoints the chief justice, and the Judicial and Legal Services Commission appoints other judges.
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