28 Apr 2003

Vote counting starts in Southern Highlands

3:13 pm on 28 April 2003

Vote counting for the first of the six seats in the supplementary election in Papua New Guinea's Southern Highlands began today, after the start of a week long poll on Saturday.

Counting is underway for the Koroba-Lake Kopiago electorate under tight security in Mendi.

Voting in one of the areas worst hit by violence during last year's national poll, the township of Tari, has now started, with the vote in the four remaining seats is due to begin over the next two days.

2-thousand police and defence force troops are present in the province for the running of the supplementary elections.

Last year's poll was cancelled because of violence, ballot tampering and the theft of voting papers.

Media reports from PNG say a man who tried to vote twice as well as a member of the group of renegade soldiers which carried out a mutiny last year at Wewak have been arrested.

There are also unconfirmed reports that three people have been killed in a clash between the suppoters of rival candidates in Koroba.