2 Sep 2008

Polling underway in Vanuatu election

10:26 am on 2 September 2008

The polls are open in Vanuatu, for the country's 4 yearly general election.

A record number of candidates is vying in 17 constituencies for the country's 52 seat parliament.

Megan Whelan reports from Port Vila

"A new registration system, which the electoral office says is simpler, and likely to cut down on duplicate votes, shows more than 150-thousand people are enrolled to vote - an increase of nearly 20 thousand from the 2004 general election. 341 candidates, up nearly 100 from 4 years ago, have put their names forward, including 46 in the capital, Port Vila. Around 120 police are patrolling polling stations, after incidents in previous elections where ballot boxes were burnt, but the police say they are expecting this year's election to be relatively peaceful. Electoral officials have warned politicians against trying to pressure voters. To encourage voting, officials have declared today a public holiday, and a country-wide liquor ban is in place until midday on Wednesday."