2 Mar 2005

PNG Bougainville election on track for May 20

4:48 pm on 2 March 2005

The official in charge of the upcoming election for an autonomous government on the Papua New Guinea Island of Bougainville says preparations are going well.

Voting is to begin on May the 20th to elect 40 people, including a president, for the new Bougainville autonomous government.

The elections manager, Mathias Pihei, says work's begun to compile a new common roll for the elections in which he estimates there could be 50 thousand eligible voters.

Training begins tomorrow for those who will supervise the elections in 12 electoral districts throughout the province.

Mr Pihei says there will be polling stations in the No Go Zone around Panguna, controlled by secessionist rebel Francis Ona.

Mr Pihei says Mr Ona is not expected to oppose the election process.

"The signals that are coming very strongly from his area is that he supports the elections and is not going to disrupt these elections. I don't think is really a threat to the election or the government on Bougainville."

Mathias Pihei says Cabinet is expected to give formal approval next week for the issuing of writs on April the fourth, and a seven-day candidate nomination period, ending on April the 21st.

Polling is expected to end on June the second, .