25 Jul 2012

PNG's O'Neill in talks over possible coalition deals

4:45 am on 25 July 2012

Reports from Papua New Guinea say that the caretaker Prime Minister Peter O'Neill has been in talks over possible coalition deals with the party of the man he controversially replaced last year.

Sir Michael Somare's National Alliance is just one of a handful of parties in discussions with the People's National Congress which leads vote counting for PNG's general election.

Johnny Blades reports.

"Papua New Guineans following local news reports last night were surprised to learn of Sir Michael, in Port Moresby fresh from his electorate win in East Sepik, in talks with the man he had branded an illegal Prime Minister and vowed to defeat since last August's ousting. Vote counting is drawing to a close and it's clear that the former ruling party, the National Alliance, has lost ground in this election. However Peter O'Neill's PNC is on track to end up as the party with the most votes and best placed to form a coalition government. Mr O'Neill's pre-election pact with the PNG Party of his deputy Prime Minister, Belden Namah, has wilted under the acrimonious exchanges between the two during the poll. Mutual opposition to Belden Namah's abrasive style of leadership appears to have galvanised support for Peter O'Neill not just from the Somare camp but also the parties of former Prime Ministers Sir Julius Chan and Paias Wingti among others."