23 Jun 2012

Polling starts in PNG

9:40 pm on 23 June 2012

Polling has started on Saturday in Papua New Guinea's general election.

Over two weeks, an estimated 4.5 million eligible voters are entitled to vote across the country's 22 provinces.

Polling is being conducted over a number of days in all provinces except in the National Capital District and all seven Highlands provinces where polling takes place on one day only, due to security concerns.

Included in the elections for the first time are the newly created Highlands provinces of Hela and Jiwaka.

Police and military have been deployed in large numbers to the Highlands, hoping to deter fighting between supporters of rival candidates as well as ballot box theft and the buying of votes.

A New Zealand helicopter squadron, comprising three Iriquois helicopters and about 40 personnel, is assisting in the transport of election officials and ballot boxes.