17 Jun 2002

More disarray in PNG polling

6:31 pm on 17 June 2002

Papua New Guinea's national election was in disarray today, with even Prime Minister Sir Mekere Morauta unable to cast his vote because ballot papers had gone missing.

The AAP news agency reports that Sir Mekere, addressing angry crowds outside a primary school in Port Moresby, alleged supporters of some candidates had stolen ballot papers.

Sir Mekere was this morning to have been one of the first to vote in the one day of polling in Port Moresby.

Sir Mekere said at the weekend that he was concerned that ballot boxes and papers were being distributed to polling places early, raising the possibility for tampering with the vote.

He says some of the places they are being distributed to include campaign houses of candidates.

Sir Mekere says it is another decision by the Electoral Commission calculated to prevent free and fair elections.

Sir Mekere has been in a row with the Electoral Commission since the Prime Minister went to court unsuccessfully in an attempt to delay the elections.

Most areas, outside of the major cities and the Highlands where voting is for one day, have 15 days of polling, beginning last Saturday.

However the start of voting in many areas was delayed because of a lack of ballot papers, ballot boxes or electoral personnel.