In a two-week-long election to choose who will lead the resource-rich country through a period of noteworthy economic vagueness, voting began in Papua New Guinea.
Peter O’Neill’s has campaigned on delivering key infrastructure and providing free education and health to a country that remains delayed in poverty. Noticeably, his party People’s National Congress won the last election in 2012.
The Prime Minister also points to more stability in a sprawling crime- ridden land where elections have been blemished by violence in the past.
With more than 3,000 candidates from over 40 political parties jostling for support, the PM said, “I appeal to all our citizens to peacefully cast their votes. Let’s show the international community that PNG has come of age and will express its democratic principles in a manner acceptable to the community.”
The polling will continue for two weeks until July 8 in PNG and the result is expected to come till late July. As there is no opinion polling in the country, it is vague who will get power. Noticeably, no party has ever won a majority, meaning a coalition is likely, held together by strategic political appointments.
Don Polye’s Triumph Heritage Empowerment Party is seen as the main danger for O’Neill’s government.
O’Neill is always criticized by the opposition for mismanaging an economy hurt by slumping global commodity prices, racking up debt by recklessly spending to meet his goals. Various corruption allegations were also made on the PM surviving a no-confidence vote last year following weeks of protests and civil disobedience urging him to resign.
Polls are monitored by the hundreds of observers to keep an eye on any vote-buying. Commonwealth Observer Group chair Anand Satyanand while talking on the role his team was playing said,”We will consider whether the elections have been conducted according to the standards for democratic elections to which Papua New Guinea has committed itself.”