16 Jul 2007

PNG Prime Minister and his party make early gains in election vote count

10:09 am on 16 July 2007

Early results from Papua New Guinea's national elections show Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare's National Alliance Party is picking up more seats than other parties.

The party winning most seats in the 109-seat parliament will be asked by the governor-general to try to form a coalition government.

First results have been declared as last votes are cast on the country's remote atolls and counting of ballots continues under heavy security.

Partial results from more than 35 electorates where counting has started indicate Sir Michael's National Alliance already appears safe in at least six seats.

Treasurer and former prime minister Sir Rabbie Namaliu is ahead in his Kokopo seat and his Pangu Party appears to have at least three seats sewn up.

Former prime minister Sir Mekere Morauta looks safe in his Moresby North-West seat and his PNG Party looks set to win at least one other seat.