9 Jul 2012

Vote counting begins in 30 PNG electorates

5:15 am on 9 July 2012

Vote counting has commenced in at least 30 of the 111 seats in Papua New Guinea's general election while polling has been extended by the Electoral Commission.

The two-week polling schedule for the five-yearly poll was originally scheduled to end on Friday but due to a series of delays had to be extended into this week for a few provinces.

In two of these provinces, Chimbu and Eastern Highlands, extra defence force personnel have been deployed to bolster security around polling amid reports of a weapons buildup around election activities in the Highlands.

Meanwhile, the incumbent Governor of PNG's National Capital District, Powes Parkop, has taken the early lead in counting for this key seat, and his Social Democrats have the lead in two seats overall.

In the only confirmed result to date, the caretaker Prime Minister Peter O'Neill has held on to his Ialibu-Pangia seat on first vote counts, with his People's National Congress leading in five overall.

Independent candidates lead in six seats and the Triumph Heritage Empowerment party in four.