COSTLY BALLOT RECOUNT IN PNG HIGHLANDS REGION

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Heavy security in long recount process

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Nov. 3, 2008) – Security has been bolstered in Papua New Guinea’s Mount Hagen City for the recount of ballot papers for the Western Highlands regional seat which begins today.

The recount for the provincial seat current held by Governor Tom Olga was ordered by the Court of Disputed Returns.

The Post Courier newspaper reports that mobile police squads from Kerowagi and Wabag have been called in to help Mount Hagen police keep security at the police station where the ballot boxes are kept in containers.

Heavy police presence is also expected at the counting centre at the grounds of the provincial headquarters Kapal Haus, which was burnt down last month.

Last week, Highlands police commander Simon Kauba issued a "shoot to kill" order for policemen if any attempts were made to blow up the Mt Hagen police station and containers with the regional seat ballot boxes.

Officials from Eastern Highlands, Chimbu and Enga will do the recounting, which will take up to 42 days and cost over US$600,000.

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