Saturday, April 08, 2006

Voting Closes in Solomon Islands

Source: BBC World News

Voting has ended in the South Pacific nation of the Solomon Islands where the first elections since a regional force restored peace in 2003 are being held. Voting passed peacefully, and officials said there was no trouble reported at polling stations. More than 450 candidates were competing for 50 seats. Results are not expected for several days. The chief electoral officer said there was considerable interest in the poll and a high turnout was predicted.
Counting is due to start on Thursday, but it will take some time for a result to come through because of the remoteness of many polling stations spread across the archipelago.
The country has 342,000 registered voters.
The United Nations has sent a team of 44 observers to monitor the election.
Prime Minister Allan Kemakeza's People's Alliance Party won 20 seats at the last election in 2001.
But several ministers have since been charged with corruption, and he may struggle to remain in power.
Mr Kemakeza invited the Australian-led peacekeeping force to the Solomons in July 2003, after violence stirred up by local warlords had left hundreds dead and 20,000 displaced.

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