1 Jun 2005

Vote counting in PNG's Bougainville to begin tonight

1:21 pm on 1 June 2005

Election officials in the Papua New Guinea province of Bougainville say they will begin counting ballots for the election of an autonomous government tonight.

The election manager, Mathias Pihei, says results for the first president of the autonomous government, and all members of the 39-seat assembly, will be known by midday tomorrow.

Results will not be confirmed for a month, however, to allow for a 30-day appeal period.

Mr Pihei says the end's in sight and election officials are both excited and relieved.

"It's that exciting feeling that the act of achieving, that comes with the act of achieving an objective before us, and that's what that feeling is -- all exciting and everyone is looking forward to have this count. It's the last phase of the electoral process, meaning in polling and the election. Everyone is all geared up. It's just a very wonderful feeling."

Mathias Pihei.

Counting was delayed one day because of non-delivery of a satellite phone to one of three vote-counting centres, at Buin, and over bad weather and a lack of flights into Bougainville.

Ballot counting is by hand and Mr Pihei says people are being trained today to carry this out.