Polling has officially begun in Papua New Guinea as the country chooses its members of parliament in its national election.
Polling has officially begun in Papua New Guinea as the country chooses its members of parliament in its national election
Polling stations had been due to open their doors at 8am, with gender-specific voting arrangements – different polling booths for male and female - but Commonwealth Observers witnessed delays in various locations, reportedly due to logistical reasons.
In many areas men and women voters formed separate queues although priority was given to the elderly, pregnant women, and disabled people.
Papua New Guinea's voting population of more than 5.5 million, living across scattered mountainous terrain, is served by 10,500 polling stations. Voting is scheduled to be open until 6pm from Monday to Friday for three weeks to give everyone a chance to vote.
When the ballot did get under way, voters were issued with two coloured papers - blue to elect the provincial governor and pink for a member in the Open District.
Commonwealth Observers are being deployed across the country’s four regions to observe preparations, the whole polling process, from pre-poll to close of polls.
Chairperson of the Commonwealth Observer Group, former President of Nauru HE Baron Waqa, said:
“We as a group are encouraged by the largely peaceful conduct of the electoral process thus far”.
"We hope that the people of PNG will continue in this trajectory until the polls close on 22 July, and even beyond”.
"We are still in the process of observing and will reflect our key findings and recommendations in our final report”.
"We continue to appeal to all stakeholders and citizens to maintain the calm and peace throughout the whole process and observe all COVID-19 safety protocols as stated in our arrival statements.”
Papua New Guinea uses the Limited Preferential Voting (LPV) system, meaning voters rank their top three candidates from first to third choice on the ballot.
To win, a candidate must have the support of an absolute majority of the electorate, or 50 per cent plus one.
Voters will directly elect 118 Members of Parliament (MPs) to serve in the National Parliament for a five-year term.
Of the 118 MPs, 96 will represent districts (also known as open electorates) and 22 will represent provinces, and one each from the National Capital District and the Autonomous Region of Bougainville.
Polls will close at 6pm each day during the 21-day voting period.
- Temitope Kalejaiye Assistant Research and Communications Officer, Commonwealth Secretariat
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