Voting in Papua New Guinea's (PNG) two-week-long elections began on Saturday, June 24, and will run until Saturday, July 8. Approximately 5 million voters will elect 111 members to PNG's parliament.
Elections are being held amid significant sociopolitical tensions in the country after PNG's Prime Minister Peter O'Neill was charged with corruption in June 2014. Australian authorities are working with PNG's electoral commission to ensure that voting runs smoothly, and more than 10,000 police and other security personnel have been deployed to mitigate the possibility of violence.
Current Prime Minister Peter O'Neill has been accused of burdening PNG with large amounts of debt. As a result of PNG's poor economic health, the country has high levels of unemployment, crime, and poverty.
PNG has an unusually long voting period, as many voters have to walk a significant distance to reach polling stations. No party has ever won a majority of votes in a national election, and analysts predict that results will dictate that another coalition government will be formed.
Individuals are advised to avoid all large gatherings due to the possibility of violence.
On a more general note, individuals present in Papua New Guinea should be aware that serious crime is particularly high in the capital, Port Moresby, and in the cities of Lae and Mount Hagen. Settlement or squatter areas of towns and cities are particularly dangerous. "Bush knives" (machetes) and firearms are often used in assaults and thefts. Carjacking, assault (including sexual assaults), bag snatching, and robberies are common.
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