Papua New Guinea polls opened on Saturday and will close July 8, because many voters have to navigate treacherous terrain to cast their ballot. Since independence in 1975, there has been an average turnover rate of 50 percent of Papua New Guinea Member of Parliaments. Sans opinion polling in the country, the vast majority of electorates – which are in the rural areas – dictate the election result. The election is being held amid Prime Minister Peter O’Neill facing an arrest warrant for corruption. He has vehemently denied all the allegations and, in recent months, weathered calls from protests and civil disobedience for his resignation.
“I am not above the law. I am quite happy to go to courts like anyone else, and I have proven time and time again that those allegations are not true and have been politically motivated in many cases. The ballot will speak for itself. So all the thing that we have listed down, we have achieved well over 90 percent of it. For any government that is a high achievement. This has never been done before,” said O’Neill.
He also survived a parliamentary no-confidence vote last year.
Over 3,300 candidates including 165 women are contesting the polls. The candidates represent 44 political parties in total. No party has ever won a majority, so a coalition government is expected.