20 May 2005

People return to villages in PNG's Bougainville to vote in historic elections

1:15 pm on 20 May 2005

Voting for an autonomous government has started on schedule in the Papua New Guinea province of Bougainville.

The Elections Manager Mathias Pihei says all polling stations opened on time, except for those in the atolls, and Buin, Wakunai, and Torokina.

He says voting will begin in these districts on Monday.

Mr Pihei says polling officials have also been sent into the so-called No Go Zone in Central Bougainville island, where there are several polling stations.

He says the main town of Buka looks deserted because people are required by law to return to their villages to vote.

"The town, which normally at this time would be covered with a huge a crowd of people, is virtually almost empty. So I guess everyone is polling in the villages as from eight o'clock this morning."