2 Aug 2007

Race to become new govt in PNG remains open - says commentator.

10:56 am on 2 August 2007

Commentators say the race to become the new government in Papua New Guinea remains wide open despite one party having won around 25 percent of the seats.

Most seats in the 109 member house are now declared and the Electoral Commissioner is expected to shortly advise the Governor General that the ruling National Alliance, as the most successful party, be given first choice to try and form a government.

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

The executive director of PNG's Institute of National Affairs, Paul Barker says anything is possible until the final hour, despite the apparent success of the National Alliance in securing the backing of smaller parties.

"But as I say with the deferral of the writs by an extra week it does give an opportunity for more horse trading to go on, and horse trading is a particularly popular activity in PNG in that run up to forming a government."