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O'Neill and Somare plan to form joint PNG government

ABC | Radio Australia

IN THE LAST 12 MONTHS, PNG has been consumed by the conflict between Peter O'Neill and the man he replaced as prime minister, Sir Michael Somare.

But on Tuesday night, as the counting continues in the general election, the two men came together and pledged to work to form the next government.

At a press conference the two men reportedly hugged and held hands.

In a joint statement, they said it was clear Mr O'Neill's People's National Congress will win the most seats and be invited to form government.

Alongside them were elected MPs from several other parties, including former PM Sir Julius Chan who pledged the support of his People's Progress Party.

The deadline for the return of writs in PNG's elections has been extended, with counting still progressing, but Mr O'Neill's PNC party has already won nearly 20 seats.

Parliament is due to resume within two weeks.

PNG's long-running political deadlock began when Sir Michael, who was the country's first leader after independence, suffered ill health in 2011.

His family announced last June that he had resigned as leader while hospitalised in Singapore.

But he recovered and returned to challenge Mr O'Neill, who had been elected by lawmakers to the top job in August, and won the support of judges who said he should be reinstated.


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