11 Jul 2002

PNG poll extended by two weeks

10:30 am on 11 July 2002

The election in Papua New Guinea has been extended until July 29th, with the new Parliament to meet by August 5th.

The writs were to be surrendered next Monday but the Electoral Comissioner, Reuben Kaiulo, announced the extension yesterday, because of delays in voting and the count after widespread violence and intimidation. .

Meanwhile armed troops are to provide election security in the Highlands, after police have struggled to contain the violence there.

There have been 19 reported deaths connected with the electoral process, and rioting in Mt Hagen this week caused the temporary closure of the airport there.

There had been fears of divided loyalties within the Defence Force, after two mutinies in the past 16 months, and soldiers were confined to barracks before the poll.

But the Police Commissioner Joseph Kupo says they are strained to the limit and he had no option but to call in the Defence Force.