After an election marked by allegations of violence and fraud, Papua New Guinea’s prime minister said he could form a coalition government.

Papua New Guinea Prime Minister James Marape said his party has enough numbers to form a coalition government after nationwide polls were marked by violence, allegations of fraud and the absence of large numbers of voters on the voter lists.
PNG’s general elections, held every five years, are among the most difficult in the world, due in part to difficult terrain, extreme weather, poor transportation infrastructure, and linguistic and cultural diversity.

Voting began on July 4 and ended on July 22, but the vote count was extended until Friday due to special circumstances, including security concerns, attacks on ballot boxes and logistical problems, the election commission said.

International election observers have reported problems ranging from observer interference in the vote count and double voting to the absence of a large number of names on voter lists.
PNG’s Office of the Commissioner of Elections said on Friday — the deadline for election results under the extension — that it has returned writ of writs for 83 congressional districts to the governor general, although vote counting for another 35 constituencies is ongoing.
Mr Marape said a day earlier that his Pangu party was preparing to form a coalition government with 15 minor parties in parliament next Tuesday after Pangu won 30 seats, giving it “an overwhelming mandate to form a government.”
Pangu, the coalition and independents have 67 seats, he said.
Peter O’Neill, leader of the largest opposition party, the People’s National Congress, contested Pangu’s ability to run for the mandate and asked the Supreme Court to delay the return of parliament next Tuesday.
On Friday, he failed to secure an injunction that required a delay in returning the court orders until all voters had finished counting the votes.

Problems with voter lists mean “millions of our people have not voted,” he told reporters on Friday.

The Melanesian Spearhead Group, in an observer’s report, said “many problems” in the election included unexplained delays of up to three days before counting began in some electoral districts, meticulous interference, and failure to verify voter identification documents.
According to the Commonwealth Monitoring Group, in some cases up to half of the names of eligible voters were not on the voter lists.
“Some candidates who are believed to have incited their supporters to fight opponents are under investigation and arrests will be made,” Police Commissioner David Manning said Tuesday.
He warned that unrest in the South Highlands province would not stop the vote count.
He added that there is potential for further confrontation as parliament sits and the court hears vote disputes as candidates allege foul play.
Attempts to disrupt the vote count led to arrests, Manning said in an earlier statement.
According to him, one South Highland fraud allegation involved witness testimony that 12,500 ballots were “stolen during voting and dropped into the ballot boxes” of another electorate.
During the vote, Mr. Manning said he was sick of the election violence in Enga province, where people were killed and schools, bridges, houses and livestock were destroyed.

The media reported about 50 election-related deaths this year, compared to 204 deaths recorded during the 2017 vote.