6 Jul 2012

Voting gets underway in remote PNG as deadline looms

7:37 am on 6 July 2012

Voting in Papua New Guinea's general election is due to finally get underway in some parts of the country despite today being the end of the originally scheduled official polling period.

The Electoral Commission says most of the polling has finished across the country but weather conditions in particular have frustrated attempts to land electoral teams and equipment into remote parts.

Johnny Bllades reports

"The Commission says polling will have to be extended by two or three days. The delays began early in the two-week polling period officially allocated for this election. Due to security concerns and the lateness of polling booths being set up, the first provinces to go to voting, such as Southern Highlands and Hela, were given extra days for polling. The hold-ups have been contagious and bad weather has compounded the logistical difficulties of moving polling across PNG. Among the provinces expected to begin voting today are Chimbu province and Eastern Highlands province. Polling is also being extended in parts of Bougainville and Western Province."

Meanwhile, a sitting Member of Parliament has been arrested for allegedly handing out cash to voters before polling began in the new Jiwaka Province.

The Post Courier reports the member for North Wahgi Benjamin Mul, who earlier in the year told the newspaper that he is a walking ATM, was detained by security forces.

The newsaper believes his arrest may be the first for this election, despite widespread allegations of such practices.