30 Jul 2002

Sir Michael Somare to form next PNG government

10:26 am on 30 July 2002

Papua New Guinea's first prime minister, Sir Michael Somare, has been asked to form the next government after his opposition party won the most seats in a six-week election.

Sir Michael's National Alliance Party has emerged as the biggest party.

It won 19 seats and his seven-party coalition is believed to control more than 40 seats in the new parliament.

A government needs 47 seats to control parliament after voting in 15 seats was declared null and void due to missing and destroyed ballots.

Sir Mekere Morauta's People's Democratic Movement won only 10 seats and he is not expected to challenge Sir Michael.

To stop defections ahead of the parliamentary vote, Sir Michael has flown his coalition MPs to Rabaul, where they will stay in camp until parliament convenes on Monday and votes for a new prime minister.

A decision on whether to re-run the poll in the 15 null and void seats in Enga and Southern Highlands provinces will be made by the time parliament sits.