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PORT MORESBY (July 1, 1997 - PACNEWS) ---Papua New Guinea's Prime Minister Sir Julius Chan was toppled from his 29-year-long political base late Monday night, as voters recorded objection to the PM's role in engaging African mercenaries earlier this year to resolve the nine-year old civil uprising on Bougainville.

Sir Julius, 57, was beaten in his bid for re-election to Parliament from the Namatanai region, bordering Bougainville, by his cousin. Sir Julius was defeated by just 110 votes.

Former University of Papua New Guinea lecturer and Director of the New Guinea Islands Regional Secretariat Ephraim Apelis recorded victory with 7,969 votes. Sir Julius received 7,859 votes.

Prime Minster Chan says he has accepted defeat, but admitted it was a painful loss.

Meantime, East Sepik Governor Sir Michael Somare, has paid tribute to Sir Julius, a long time friend and colleague.

There is intense speculation in Papua New Guinea, with the defeat of Sir Julius, that Sir Michael may , once again, become PNG's Prime Minister.

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