13 Aug 2007

PNG PM accuses Australia of interference in elections

6:32 am on 13 August 2007

Papua New Guinea's Prime Minister, Sir Michael Somare, has accused the Australian government of trying to interfere in his country's election process.

The AAP news agency reports that Sir Michael says he will raise the issue at the next Pacific Islands Forum meeting.

The 71-year-old politician is expected to be re-elected as prime minister for a second consecutive term today when the new parliament meets for the first time.

Sir Michael's latest accusations against Australia do not augur well for improved relations with Canberra during his prime ministership.

During PNG's election, the Australian Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer, called on the Somare government to release a PNG Defence Force report into the escape of wanted Australian lawyer Julian Moti to the Solomons.

A leaked copy of the report shows it points the finger of blame at Sir Michael and recommends he be charged.

Sir Michael has consistently denied sanctioning the flight for Mr Moti, who is wanted in Australia to face child sex charges.