25 Nov 2009

PNG polling officials reluctant to follow order to return to Kandep

9:46 pm on 25 November 2009

Polling officials in Papua New Guinea have been ordered to return to the electorate of Kandep to hold a second poll in three areas where last week's by-election was abandoned due to violence.

The National newspaper reports the electoral commissioner, Andrew Trawen has told polling teams to go back to areas where helicopter pilots carrying ballot boxes and election workers refused to land last week because of violent clashes.

But polling officials say its impossible to return, with one saying they had been attacked themselves and had seen fighting with high-powered guns.

A number of policemen say they don't want to return either, after an ambush and exchange of gunfire with gunmen in the area.

Mr Trawen has also ordered that vote counting be stopped in Goroka, where the count had been shifted from Mt Hagen.

Candidate Alfred Manase accused the Electoral Commission of serving the interests of one candidate, and says it should not direct people to go back to be killed.