5 Apr 2006

Quiet start to voting in Solomons

2:09 pm on 5 April 2006

There's been a quiet start to the general elections in Solomon Islands. .

Just before the polls opened, the Chairman of the Electoral Commission, Sir Peter Kenilorea, in a nation-wide broadcast, appealed to all voters to cast their votes early.

Polling officials at booths in Honiara and nearby White River report a steady stream of voters who are using the single ballot box system for the first time.

An official at White River says there have been a few people whose names have not appeared on the lists, despite saying they had registered some time ago.

A mobile police patrol is making its way around polling stations in Honiara but the atmosphere has been peaceful and a police spokesman says they are receiving similar reports from around the country.

Over 340 thousand people are registered to vote in the elections which are being held on a public holiday.

The 802 polling stations, which opened at 7am local time, will close at 5pm and counting will begin tomorrow morning.

About 46 international and 80 domestic observers have been deployed throughout the country to observe today's polls.