8 Jul 2002

Papua New Guinea PM says election could be extended

10:24 am on 8 July 2002

Papua New Guinea's Prime Minister, Sir Mekere Morauta, says the country's problem-plagued election can be extended by two weeks and still be legitimate.

With just a week to go before the winners are supposed to be announced, some remote parts of the country have only just received polling materials.

However, the Prime Minister says the poll can be extended until July 29 without prompting a constitutional crisis.

Only a quarter of the 109 seats have so far been declared and voting in some others only began at the weekend.

Of the seats declared, Sir Mekere's People's Democratic Movement has secured five, one behind the National Alliance, the party of founding Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare.

So far three of Sir Mekere's ministers have been ousted, including deputy Prime Minister Michael Ogio.

In other voting, the Pangu Party looks like ending the attempted return to parliament of former prime minister, Sir Julius Chan.

In the New Ireland Provincial seat, Pangu's Ian Stuckey leads Sir Julius by some seven thousand votes.

however, the news is not so good for Pangu Party leader and former mining minister, Chris Haiveta, who is running third behind two other candidates in the race for the Gulf Provincial seat.