6 Aug 2007

NA signs up seven parties for new PNG coalition government

3:32 pm on 6 August 2007

The leader of Papua New Guinea's National Alliance, Sir Michael Somare, has signed up seven political parties to join his party in a prospective coalition government.

The seven parties were all members of Sir Michael's outgoing administration.

The NA has also had its ranks boosted by 13 independents who have signed on as members of the Party to lift its MPs to 40, and with the support of the seven parties boosting the coalition numbers to 60.

Our correspondent at the NA-led talks in Kokopo, Alex Rheeney, says the NA is continuing talks with other parties and could feasibly have backing from as many as 81 of the 109 MPs.

But he says a lot can happen before the new parliament meets next Monday to elect a prime minister and speaker.

"In PNG politics, seven days from now up until when Parliament sits next Monday is long time, so while they do have agreements in place we cannot discount they fact that these parties could cross the floor and join the other camp when it mattered, on the day it mattered."

Alex Rheeney