25 Jul 2012

O'Neill on track to retain PNG top job

1:32 pm on 25 July 2012

Papua New Guinea's caretaker prime minister Peter O'Neill has won the backing of a former prime minister and rival Sir Michael Somare to form the next government.

In a move likely to give a boost to Mr O'Neill's claim to keep the top job, Sir Michael, along with two other former prime ministers Sir Julius Chan and Paias Wingti, have publicly declared they will form a new government.

The Post Courier published a joint statement in which the leaders say it is now evident Mr O'Neill and his People's National Congress have secured more numbers than any other party, and will be called to form the next government.

Sir Michael was unseated last August, following a political revolt that saw Mr O'Neill installed in the top job.

His backing adds five MPs to Mr O'Neill's 17, while Sir Julius, who brokered the deal, brings a further six.