17 Jan 2012

PNG's National Alliance splits as polls loom

10:26 am on 17 January 2012

A leading Papua New Guinea Party, the National Alliance, has split, with a faction leader, Don Polye, saying he is setting up a new political entity.

Mr Polye has told the Post Courier newspaper that a name will be announced by the end of this month when the new party is launched.

He says the veteran leader Sir Michael Somare is gone and so will his party.

This comes as PNG gears up for elections later this year.

The country's political leadership is divided, with Sir Michael and Peter O'Neill both claiming to be the legitimate prime minister.

Although the issue is still to be decided by the courts, most agencies back the O'Neill side which took power last August when Sir Michael was in medical care in Singapore.