23 Jun 2012

Papua New Guineans welcome start of polling in general election

7:38 am on 23 June 2012

People in Papua New Guinea are expressing relief at the start of polling in the general election.

Today is the first day of the two-week polling period in PNG's five-yearly poll.

Many Papua New Guineans had staged protests earlier in the year against the move by MPs to defer the poll by six months.

In response to the outcry, the O'Neill government reverted back to the original polling schedule.

A journalist with the public broadcaster, NBC, Gregory Moses, says a lot of people view this election as very important.

"Because after what the country has been through the people see this election as it's very important, a lot of churches are coming out publicly praying and saying things like that, a lot of people have been saying this election is really important because the decision that we make in this election will people know where Papua New Guinea stands in the years down the line."

Gregory Moses.

Meanwhile, an independent candidate in East Sepik province says the political party system is not really based on policies.

Michael Wagambie, a lawyer who is contesting the Wewak Open seat, is one of 24 independent candidates out of an overall 34 standing for this seat.

Independents account for over half of the nearly three and a half thousand candidates vying for 111 seats in parliament.

Mr Wagambie says it means little to most voters that some parties promote extensive policies.

They set out very good policies but when they get in they don't give effect to those policies. So really, the party system and the policies are insignificant. It's about who you are, not about the policies. We need to make more awareness among people, especially the 80 percent of the population, people who are in the rural areas need to be more aware of the policies and the decision-making process. And a this stage I cannot see them going by the policies, but they go by the person.

Michael Wagambie.