17 Jun 2002

The majority of voting in PNG's general election is delayed until today or tomorrow

8:39 am on 17 June 2002

Voting got off to a slow start in Papua New Guinea's election over the weekend with money problems forcing most areas to delay the start of polling.

The polling opened in one area in the central province around 50-km from the capital Port Moresby but in most other areas election officials said voting would not start before today or tomorrow.

Officials said election funds had only arrived on Friday, so there had not been time to arrange for fuel or boat and helicopter hire for election managers to get to inaccessible electorates.

Voting will be spread over 12 days but officials do not expect a result for at least a month as counts trickle back from remote areas.

The Prime Minister, Sir Mekere Morauta, has called for a free and fair elections after previous polls have been marred by attempts to buy votes.

A record 2,875 candidates representing 43 parties are competing for 109 seats.

PNG is grappling with economic management issues such as tight government budgets, stabilisation of the currency and generating growth as well as the fight against corruption.