28 Jun 2007

Guarded optimism as PNG heads into first national election under preference vote system

7:32 pm on 28 June 2007

Observers say there is some optimism going into the first Papua New Guinea national election to be conducted under the limited preferential voting system, but there are concerns about how the counting process.

Voting starts on Saturday and is planned to continue for two weeks.

Previous elections have been undermined by violence, often between the supporters of rival candidates, but this has not been the case in the seven or so weeks of campaigning for this poll.

Paul Barker, who is the executive director of the Institute of National Affairs, says to date candidates have generally been on their best behaviour.

"Candidates and parties don't want to alienate the other candidates and parties too much. They want to get the other candidates to recommend second votes and third votes going to them. So, when they see that they don't get them, that is likely to be the time when antagonism sort of erupts."