Papuans in 15 electoral districts of Dutch New Guinea went to the polls, Jan 9/10, in the primary stage of the election of the territory's first representative body, the New Guinea Council.
Papuans in 15 electoral districts of Dutch New Guinea went to the polls, Jan 9/10, in the primary stage of the election of the territory's first representative body, the New Guinea Council. Expected to begin work in march or April, the council will have a say in legislation and policy.
At the small coastal village of Kaju Pulu, in the Hollandia district, polling began on Jan 9. men and women trooped to a temporary polling station outside the village church to record their vote - for the first time in their lives. There were no voting slips. Guarding against mishaps in procedure due to illiteracy, the authorities had approved a method whereby voters first heard the names of candidates read out to them and then whispered their choice into the ear of an official.
Out of some 600 inhabitants, 258 Papuans at Kaju Pulu were qualified to vote in this indirect election. Nearly 60% - reported to be the average throughout the territory - made use of their right and chose a number of electors who will later, together with electors nominated in other districts, name the members of the Dutch New Guinea Council. In some districts, direct elections to the council will be held. Eventually, there will be a minimum of 24 and a maximum of 48 members on the council.