1 Aug 2007

PNG's National Alliance set to return to power

3:14 pm on 1 August 2007

The dominant party in last month's national elections in Papua New Guinea, Sir Michael Somare's National Alliance, has moved MPs to Kokopo in East New Britain, as it tries to forge a coalition to take power when the new Parliament sits on August 13th.

It has flown 29 MPs in a chartered plane into Kokopo after they had been sequestered in Wewak for several days.

The National Alliance is expected to be offered first choice by the Governor General to try and form a government later this week.

Our correspondent in Port Moresby, Alex Rheeney, says Sir Michael Somare is claiming to now have the backing of 68 MPs in the 109-member house.

"The latest one to join his Party is the Enga governor, Peter Ipatas, who was so vocal in the lead up to the elections that he wanted Sir Michael kicked out of office so he could take the top post himself. But he admitted yesterday that the results and the declarations so far with the National Alliance leading shows that Papua New Guineans wanted the National Alliance to be back in power, so he decided to bite the bullet and join National Alliance."

Alex Rheeney

Another faction, built around former Prime Ministers Sir Mekere Morauta and Sir Julius Chan and a former Treasurer Bart Philemon, maintains it can still attract enough backing to become government.