1 Jun 2007

Australia warns of violence before PNG election

3:57 am on 1 June 2007

The Australian government has warned it's citizens of possible violence in neighbouring Papua New Guinea ahead of the country's national election starting in June.

The Foreign Affairs and Trade ministry released a bulletin warning travellers to avoid rallies, demonstrations and other large public gatherings as they may turn violent.

More than 2,000 police, soldiers and prison officers are to be deployed to PNG's highlands to curb expected violence in the elections, to be held from June 30 to July 10.

The Australian warning advised travellers to reconsider travel to the Highlands region, with violence likely between opposing clan and political groups.

Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare is seeking a fourth term in office, heading a coalition of parties.

His former treasurer, Bart Philemon, is his main opponent.