6 Jul 2004

Polling opens in Vanuatu general election

10:42 am on 6 July 2004

Polling has opened in Vanuatu's general election.

More than 220 candidates are standing for the 52 seats.

The prime minister, Edward Natapei, and other high profile leaders are expected to retain their seats.

Our correspondent, Len Garae, says there's been a rise in the number of independents standing.

But, he says it's the parties which'll capture most of the votes - because of their high-profile leaders.

Len Garae says it's not certain that Mr Natapei's Vanu'aku party will be re-elected to power:

"If it's going to retain its position, it's on the grounds that the National United party and the Vanu'aku party are campaigning under one ticket. This is something that the majority of the population since independence have been wanting all along, for the Vanu'aku party to re-unite with its breakaway factions."