PAPUA NEW GUINEA'S STRONG WILLED deputy prime minister, Belden Namah, appears to be struggling to retain his seat in the national election as rival Sir Michael Somare is on track to return to parliament.
With just over 51% of the vote counted in the West Sepik electorate of Vanimo-Green, Mr Namah with 610 votes is trailing independent Willie Obow Inaru with 2,948 votes.
Mr Namah became deputy prime minister in August last year after helping orchestrate the parliamentary coup that toppled Sir Michael.
Last month, backed by his police and military bodyguards, Mr Namah stormed the supreme court and demanded the arrest of chief justice Sir Salamo Injia.
A firm nationalist, he has railed against what he has called a disastrous election, saying it was orchestrated by Australia and his one time political ally, prime minister Peter O'Neill.
Sir Michael, 76, and now seemingly recovered from the heart surgery that left him bedridden for eight months last year, is in a nail-biting race for the East Sepik seat he has held for 44 years.
With 35% of the vote counted, Sir Michael has 35,314 votes, while Pangu Pati rival Allan Bird is on 31,948.
Known as both the "father of the nation" and "the Grand Chief", Sir Michael has vowed to see O'Neill, Namah and members of their front bench jailed over the August coup.
He has said he will see a new government formed under his National Alliance banner but has not clarified if he will be the party's nomination for PM if it wins enough seats.
Mr O'Neill on Saturday became the first declared winner in the 2012 poll and vowed to form the next government.
In PNG, no party usually has enough to govern in its own right, so a long period of "horse-trading" begins, where MPs enter negotiations with independent MPs and smaller parties.