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Last Updated: Monday, 13 August 2007, 08:57 GMT 09:57 UK
PNG lawmakers elect Somare as PM
Michael Somare, Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, in September 2006
Michael Somare has now held the top job four times
Papua New Guinea's parliament has elected Michael Somare as prime minister for a second consecutive term.

Mr Somare, 71, received the support of 86 members of the 109-seat parliament, seeing off a challenge from former leader Julius Chan.

The veteran lawmaker was the Pacific nation's first post-independence leader in 1975. This is the fourth time he has been chosen for the post.

His election follows nationwide polls that began on 30 June.

The polls lasted for two weeks, to ensure people in remote areas got a chance to vote.

Mr Somare's National Alliance Party won just 27 seats, but it has formed a coalition government through alliances with smaller parties and independents.

Police set up road blocks around parliament ahead of the leadership election, fearing violent protests.

'Greater heights'

"I am happy to lead once again this large but manageable coalition government," Mr Somare said after his election.

Papua New Guinea

He said that Papua New Guinea (PNG) - a country with vast reserves of natural resources - had experienced unprecedented growth under his previous government.

"We will use the experience to achieve even greater heights over the next five years," he told lawmakers.

The economy has indeed prospered in recent times, and growth of more than 5% is expected this year, the BBC's Phil Mercer in Sydney says.

The country will expect the Somare government to continue its financial reforms, he adds.

But there are other pressing issues facing the government.

Poverty remains widespread in PNG, a nation of some six million people, where about 40% live on less than $1 per day.

Crime rates are high and corruption is endemic.

Papua New Guinea also has the world's highest ratio of people with HIV/Aids. Australian experts predict the epidemic will claim some 300,000 lives in the country over the next two decades.


SEE ALSO
Voting begins in Papua New Guinea
30 Jun 07 |  Asia-Pacific
State of emergency in PNG region
01 Aug 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Australian police 'may quit PNG'
13 May 05 |  Asia-Pacific
Papua New Guinea 'to implode'
14 Dec 04 |  Asia-Pacific
Country Profile: Papua New Guinea
09 Jul 03 |  Country profiles
Timeline: Papua New Guinea
19 May 03 |  Country profiles

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