24 Jun 2002

First election result in PNG sees Morauta returned

4:41 pm on 24 June 2002

Papua New Guinea's prime minister, Sir Mekere Morauta, has won his seat in the parliamentary election still under way.

Election officials says Sir Mekere won his Port Moresby seat with at least 900 more votes than his nearest rival in the first result declared so far.

109 seats are at stake in the two-week poll which has been affected by violence, allegations of fraud and a lack of organisation.

Officials heading the elections in Morobe Province have asked for an extension of polling for a further two weeks to allow areas where polling started late to complete voting.

The last of sixty teams that needed helicopter transport should be in place by today.

East New Britain has also asked for an extension.

Our correspondent in Port Moresby, Peter Niesi, says the election commissoner could extend polling.

"He may need to have to organise the gazette to make sure that that happens but other than that he's got the powers to be able to have that flexibility at least up until July the 15th."

The Australian High Commissioner to PNG, Nick Warner, witnessed the burning of six ballot boxes at the Goroka Police station.

The boxes were from a polling site at Akameko, but they were not brought in by officials until the day after voting ended.

When they arrived, scrutineers of rival candidates suspected foul play and doused the boxes with kerosine and set them alight.

Bad weather has also been affecting voting in some areas.

Polling is due to continue for at least the rest of this week and results are complete results are expected in about a month.