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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, July 6) - The Indonesian community in Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands went to the polls with more than 150 million other Indonesians yesterday in the first presidential election where the people directly elect their president and vice-president.

The Indonesian community of Port Moresby, numbering 108, with the exception of the military attaches (neutral), cast their votes at their embassy at Waigani from 9am to 3pm yesterday. At the same time, another 328 ballot papers have been mailed to others residing in the other provinces and another 56 to the Solomon Islands.

Expressing elation after casting his vote, the ambassador to PNG and the Solomon Islands Ambassador Djopari casting his vote at the Indonesian Embassy yesterday.

Johannes Djopari said the people of Indonesia have triumphed after waiting so long.

"The people are now voting directly for a president and vice-president," he said, adding it is unlike the old political party system where the parliamentary members elect the president.

The embassy and the resident populace described the occasion as "a significant improvement in the country’s efforts to apply true democracy".

There are five presidential candidates in the running to lead the third largest democracy in the world.

The result of the poll should be made known in a month’s time.

July 6, 2004

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