An Australian academic with long links to the autonomous Papua New Guinea province of Bougainville says it's impossible to say who might win the presidency in the two-week poll starting on Saturday.
!4 candidates are contesting the position left vacant by last June's death of Joseph Kabui.
The Australian National University's, Dr Anthony Regan, who is in Bougainville's main town, Buka, says to an extent, the high number of candidates is a reflection that there is no clear leading candidate.
He says this is in contrast to the previous poll which was largely a contest between two high profile politicians, Mr Kabui and John Momis.
And Dr Regan says the new preferential voting system will also be a factor.
"The people are thinking well it is a bit unpredictable how these preferences will be distributed. If I can do deals or I can get enough second and third preferences I have a real chance here. So the absence of these strong candidates of the first election has thrown things wide open."
Dr Anthony Regan