29 Jun 2002

Voting extended by five days in remote areas of PNG to enable thousands to vote

9:27 am on 29 June 2002

The Papua New Guinea election is to be extended for five days in remote areas to enable thousands to vote.

The country's Electoral Commission says the extension of the poll, which was due to end today will enable the police to increase security at polling and counting centres in the five Highlands provinces.

Counting, also delayed due to logistical problems, will continue in the rest of the country but a final result may not be known for a month.

No more final results have been declared for two days as the election enters its third week.

So far winners have been named in only seven electorates.

customs and tax office staff over the years.

Meanwhile, claims by the Electoral Commissioner that Pacific Helicopters has been paid for transporting equipment and staff during the current elections have been dismissed by the company.

The commissioner says there was a misunderstanding which led to the delay in transporting equipment and staff but he says the company has now been paid more than 1-million US dollars.

But Pacific Helicopters executive manager Phil Smith says the claims are utterly untrue.

Mr Smith says he would like to know what bank the money was put in.

He says the company had tried to talk with Mr Kaiulo on several occasions but the commissioner has failed to respond.

Our correspondent, Peter Niesi, says the use of helicopters is important in the highlands.

"If they don't continue to fly that will affect polling for areas where the only access is by chopper, or the quicker and more secure access is by chopper."

Peter Niesi