26 May 2005

Voting in PNG's Bougainville province nears end

4:15 pm on 26 May 2005

Polling in most of the Papua New Guinea province of Bougainville is expected to be completed by the end of today.

The elections manager, Mathias Pihei, says the poll for the province's first autonomous government, which began last Friday, has been going very well.

He says all areas except one district in the south near Buin should be finished by the end of today.

"There is one constituency there that has been experiencing difficulties with road blocks and we could not get a team quickly into the polling area. We managed to do that successfully two days ago and they will be completing polling on Saturday.'"

Mr Pihei says there have only been minor problems,, including the loss of some ballots when a boat sank and when another box was stolen - in both cases he says the affected districts were re-polled.

Mr Pihei says on Wednesday there were gun shots near a polling station at Siwai, but there was no indication if they were directed at election officials who have since completed their work in the district.