5 Mar 2011

Voting polls due to open in Samoa for general elections

6:33 am on 5 March 2011

Polls are now opening in Samoa's general election.

The country goes to the polls today to elect members of its 49 seat parliament.

More than 100-thousand voters will cast their votes at 291 polling booths on the two islands today.

A change of policy at the last minute meant political advertising was allowed on radio and television until midnight last night, instead of the previous 6pm deadline.

The police will be out in force, guarding polling places, and patrolling to prevent election related violence.

The ruling Human Rights Protection Party, which has been in government for almost 30 years, and currently has a 70 percent majority in the house, is standing about 70 candidates.

The opposition Tautua Samoa, formed in 2008, is standing more than 40, and there are almost 40 independents.

Voting closes at 2pm, and some preliminary results are expected tonight.