19 Jul 2007

PNG's national alliance party emerges as a strong contender to form new coalition govt

11:33 am on 19 July 2007

Papua New Guinea's National Alliance party is emerging as the strongest contender to form a new coalition government.

Counting is continuing in the national elections, with the National Alliance well ahead of others with 11 seats. Others are likely to go the party's way.

No party will win an outright majority in the 109-member parliament but the party winning the most seats will be invited by the Governor-General to try to form a coalition government.

Seats already won or looking safe for National Alliance includes Sir Michael Somare's East Sepik seat, Deputy Prime Minister Don Polye's Kandep seat and Foreign Minister Paul Tiensten's Pomio seat.

Four other parties looked safe in three seats each, including former prime minister Mekere Morauta's PNG Party, former treasurer Bart Philemon's New Generation Party, Opposition Leader Peter O'Neill's People's National Congress and Pangu Party.

Pangu's leader, former prime minister Sir Rabbie Namaliu, has lost his Kokopo seat in East New Britian.

After 25 years in national politics including the prime ministership from 1988 to 1992, Sir Rabbie lost by less than 500 votes to independent candidate Patrick Tammur.