23 May 2005

Roadblocks fail to disrupt PNG's Bougainville elections

2:36 pm on 23 May 2005

Officials on the Papua New Guinea Island of Bougainville say roadblocks by armed criminals have not disrupted polling for the province's first autonomous government.

The head of the United Nations Mission in Bougainville, Tor Stenbock, says ballot boxes were flown to Buin in the south of the island over two days to avoid roadblocks he says were set up as money-making ventures.

Polling began on Friday to elect a president and a 39-seat assembly for the province of 175-thousand people.

Mr Stenbock claims roadblocks are posing no major threat.

"There was a roadblock that was set up there for whatever reason, I do not even think it was a political reason because it's been happening every so often, it's more like petty criminals collecting some kinas. It was essential to get these ballot boxes down on time in order to start the polling and that is how it was chosen to be done."

He says polling at the majority of polling stations has been running smoothly.