STRONG VOTER TURNOUT IN MARSHALL ISLANDS’ GENERAL ELECTION

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MAJURO, Marshall Islands (November 15, 1999 – Radio Australia)---There has been a strong turnout by voters for the general election in the Marshall Islands, where analysts are predicting a close result in the contests for 33 Nitijela (parliament) seats.

Some 28,000 voters are expected to cast their ballots today after the most aggressive campaign in 20 years, but final results are not expected to be announced until next week.

The opposition United Democratic Party has been campaigning on an anti-corruption platform.

President Imata Kabua is campaigning on reduced taxes, increased aid from Taiwan and continued good relations with the U.S.

Giff Johnson from the Marshall Islands Journal says the outcome will depend on whether people will vote according to issues.

"If they vote on issues, then the opposition has a much greater chance.

"If they vote as they historically have along family and traditional lines then incumbents are certainly more likely to get in.

"Now in Kwajalein the President, Imata Kabua, will certainly get back in as a Senator. There's no question about that.

"The big question is that the President’s party has had basically a one or two vote majority in the Parliament. It's been very close.

"Will he be returned with a majority? That seems to be the open question now," Johnson told Radio Australia.

For additional reports from Radio Australia, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Radio Australia.

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