Vote counting has commenced in Papua New Guinea (PNG) on Sunday, July 9. Voting was expected to end on July 8, but logistical problems preventing a large number of people from voting means that ballot boxes remain open in some provinces on July 9. The general elections continue have been marred by opposition accusations of irregularities and poor organisation. With tensions already high in the country, frustrations among voters could result in renewed bouts of unrest. More than 10,000 police and other security personnel have been deployed to mitigate the possibility of violence.
Voting in the country's two-week-long elections began on Saturday, June 24. On June 27, voting in the capital capital city of Port Moresby was postponed by strike action by staff of the electoral commission over unpaid allowances. PNG has an unusually long voting period, in part because many voters in rural areas have to walk a significant distance to reach polling stations. Voting has also been interrupted or postponed in other areas of the country due to logistical problems, discrepancies in the electoral roll, and disputes among the candidates. Approximately 5 million voters will elect 111 members to PNG's parliament. 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.
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. He is also 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.
Individuals are advised to remain abreast of the situation and to avoid all large gatherings due to the possibility of violence.
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