VOTING BEGINS ON AUTONOMOUS BOUGAINVILLE

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MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, May 20) – Voting has started for an autonomous government in the Papua New Guinea province of Bougainville.

The first polls opened on Sahano Island just off Buka.

The first vote was cast by the local chief as a small queue of other voters gathered.

Polling will progress around the country over two weeks.

Ballot boxes have been put in place across the island, although there have been problems with roadblocks in some areas, particularly in the Southern region near Buin.

Around 250 candidates will contest 40 seats in the new Bougainville parliament, including a president chosen by a popular first-past-the-post vote

The elections and government from part of the conditions of Bougainville's landmark 2001 peace agreement.

May 20, 2005

Radio Australia: www.abc.net.au/ra

 

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