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Solomon Islands Holds First Election Since End of Civil Unrest


People across the Solomon Islands are turning out to vote in the country's first general elections since an international force intervened to end civil unrest.

There were no reports of violence or intimidation at the start of Wednesday's elections on the South Pacific island chain. More than 340,000 people are registered to vote - up 61,000 from the previous poll in 2001.

Thirteen parties and more than 450 candidates are competing for the 50 seats in the legislature.

Fifty international observers and 80 domestic monitors plan to check the fairness of the voting.

Prime Minister Allen Kemakeza's People's Alliance Party has ruled since the 2001 elections. But the party's popularity has waned in recent years after several ministers were charged with corruption offenses.

Australia led a force into the Solomons in 2003 to restore order and end violence between indigenous people on Guadalcanal and migrants from neighboring Malaita island.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.
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