Polling begins: 78 candidates in race for 3 seats

By James Apa Gumuno
Published May 25th 2004 in The Nation (Papua New Guinea)

POLLING in the by-elections for the Yangoru/Saussia Open, Anglimp/South Waghi Open, and Chimbu Provincial electorates get underway tomorrow. More than 1550 police personnel have been deployed in the East Sepik, Western Highlands and Chimbu provinces to ensure people cast their vote without trouble.

Voters in the three electorates are choosing their candidates using the Limited Preferential Voting system for the first time. A total of 79 candidates (Yangoru/Saussia — 18, Anglimp/South Waghi —30, Chimbu - 31) are vying for the three seats in Parliament. Police personnel are being drawn from all parts of the country to carry out security operations in the elections. They were also involved in awareness campaign for a peaceful election. Polling in the Anglimp/South Waghi electorate will be for one day only while for Chimbu provincial, polling will go on for 11 days. 

The police operation is costing the electoral commission about K6.8 million. The commission will also be using five helicopters and two fixed wing aircrafts to deploy polling and security officials all over Chimbu province. 

Deputy Police Commissioner and Chief of Operation Gari Baki warned police personnel about proper conduct during the polling period. Addressing them at a parade at the Kimininga barracks in Mt Hagen, Mr Baki urged them to be transparent and to uphold their code of conduct while performing their duties. He warned them not to associate or become involved with candidates and their politics because they would be severely penalized if caught. Provincial police boss Superintendent Wini Heano said they were ready for action and he expect polling to be generally peaceful.

Mr Heano said 1200 security personnel would be deployed in Anglimp/South Waghi. They would then move on to Chimbu province. Mr Heano said he and election manager Sali Bunat have agreed that counting of votes will take place in Minj and not at the Kiminga police gymnasium. 

Counting of votes would start on Monday and would take about two weeks to complete because of the size of the electorate. Election manager for Chimbu Joe Godfrey said polling in the province would start with Karamui/Nomane tomorrow (Saturday) followed by Guimne on Monday, Chuave on Wednesday, Sinasina/Yongomugl on Thursday, Kundiawa/Gembogl on Saturday and Kerowagi district on Monday, May 31.

The Electoral Commission is employing 500 polling officials in Anglimp/South Waghi and 1500 in the Chimbu province.