11 Jul 2006

PNG police fire warning shots during by-election voting in Port Moresby

9:28 am on 11 July 2006

Papua New Guinea police have fired warning shots to disperse angry voters at a polling booth during a key parliamentary by-election in Port Moresby.

Many voters were turned away when they found their names were not on a new electoral roll for the National Capital District (NCD) seat, left vacant by the recent death of former Prime Minister Bill Skate.

While voting was largely peaceful over the weekend, tensions flared at a few booths and police said officers had to fire warning shots to break up rowdy would-be voters at an open-air booth in the suburb of Hohola.

The new roll for the seat was prepared within the last year and was meant to improve on the current common roll for the nation that is vastly inflated with "ghost" voters and defunct names.

Candidate William Skate Junior, the son of Bill Skate and one of 23 candidates for the seat, filed court orders demanding the Electoral Commission suspend voting and disclose the number of ballot papers to be used.

The commission disclosed the numbers and the voting continued.

Police say that during the weekend voting, eight people were arrested for electoral offences including impersonation and double voting.