18 Jul 2012

Independents secure PNG seats as counting continues

6:22 pm on 18 July 2012

The first confirmed wins by independent candidates in Papua New Guinea's General Election have been declared.

James Lagea has retained his Kagua-Erave Open seat in Southern Highlands province.

And in the Yangoru-Saussia electorate of East Sepik, Richard Maru has beaten the incumbent Peter Waranaka-Wararu of Sir Michael Somare's National Alliance.

That brings to 26 the number of seats declared in the 111-member parliament.

Independents also lead in 14 electorates and, with a number of seats still in the early stages of counting, are expected to hold significant bargaining power amid lobbying by political parties to form a coalition government.

The People's National Congress of the caretaker Prime Minister Peter O'Neill continues to lead vote counting.

The PNC leads or has won in 25 seats.

The next best placed party is the Triumph Heritage Empowerment party of Don Polye which is ahead in 14 seats.

The PNG Party of the caretaker deputy Prime Minister Belden Namah is ahead in nine.

The National Alliance leads in 7 but in another setback for the party in its East Sepik stronghold, the incumbent Angoram MP, Arthur Somare, has lost his lead to Ludwig Patrick Schulze of the Pangu Pati.