24 Jun 2012

Chaos erupts in PNG province during polling

10:01 pm on 24 June 2012

Despite a largely trouble-free start to polling across Papua New Guinea in the country's general election, chaos has erupted in Hela province.

Hela, which as the hub of PNG's Liquefied Natural Gas project, is hugely important to the country's economic growth.

It has experienced violence and alleged ballot crime this weekend.

Radio New Zealand International's reporter in PNG says polling was meant to take place on one day only, Saturday, in Hela and neighbouring Southern Highlands province, mainly for security reasons.

But police say the late arrival of electoral and security personnel to some polling stations prompted authorities to extend polling into Sunday.

Yet many people in Hela still didn't get the chance to vote and eyewitness reports suggest thugs have stolen ballot boxes and voting papers, attacked supporters of rival candidates and burned down houses.