A Papua New Guinea election candidate kidnapped by opponents has been released and several suspects have been charged, police say.
FORMER MP Nickson Maki was abducted at gunpoint on Tuesday at a polling training centre at Kopian, in Enga Province.
Armed tribesmen had abducted Maki after they locked the centre’s gate, attacked polling officials, set up a roadblock and set Maki’s car on fire before abducting him, Assistant Commissioner Joab Mangae said on Wednesday.
“A strong police and defence force contingent are now deployed in Kopian,” he said in a statement.
The two-week parliamentary election, held every five years, is PNG’s eighth poll since it gained independence from Australia in 1975.
Mangae was confident polling officials would be deployed throughout the province on Wednesday.
A police spokesman said a number of people had been charged in connection with the incident.
Separately, police arrested four men who tried to steal a ballot box in the capital Port Moresby
Assistant police commissioner Francis Tokura said candidates had paid the men, who were dressed as police.
“I appeal to candidates not to fund these types of activities as it will put people’s lives at risk when our security forces move in,” Tokura said.
The two-week election got off to a shaky start on Saturday in the Southern Highlands and the newly established Hela province.
In Chimbu Province, police have asked for talks after a soldier was shot and wounded last week, allegedly by a candidate.
Polling had to be extended by two days in parts of the highlands region following logistical problems.
In some villages surrounding the outpost town of Tari voters complained their names were not on the roll.
At one booth, officials pressed on without a roll.
AAP and other international media witnessed children voting.
Polling in Baimuru, East and West Kikori in Gulf Province was delayed by bad weather. Officials said they waited for four days for a helicopter to arrive with election materials.
Polling in Enga Province started on Wednesday.
Voting in PNG’s 22 provinces is expected to end early in July with counting expected to start this week.