VANUATU AGENCY UNPREPARED FOR 2008 ELECTIONS

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By Ricky Binihi

PORT VILA, Vanuau (Daily Post, Jan. 1) - An estimated Vt20 million will be needed by the Electoral Office to do work on registration of voters through out Vanuatu.

But Daily Post investigations has found out that the government has not budgeted for this huge undertaking by the Electoral Office since Parliament passed the bill for the Representation of the People Act (Amendment) after the budget was already approved.Vanuatu returns to the polls in September next year which means that work must start soon on registration but nothing could be done with a reportedly meagre Vt3 million budget that is allocated to the Electoral Office.

And the Daily Post has further found out that the entire Electoral Office has only four permanent staff members and it would be close to impossible for the Electoral Office to complete the registration before the Elections.

But when asked the secretary of the Electoral Commission, Principal Electoral Officer Mr Martin Tete said that now that the law is passed in parliament they have legal obligation to carry out the registrations.

The new amendment to Cap 146 (Representation of the People Act) which allows people who live outside town area but with in town to also vote in either the Port Vila and Luganville also requires the Electoral Office to make a new registration of voters throughout Vanuatu.

Daily Post understands that the Electoral Office is supposed to contact to important elections next year.

One is the election of chief representatives to the Vanuatu National Council of Chiefs, Malvatumauri, and the other is the election of the new 52 members of Parliament in September 2008.

Mr Tete admitted that 2008 would be a difficult year in terms of workload but he said that the Electoral Office would carry out its role although he hinted that a prompt response for an increase in their budget would be an advantage in speeding up work.

Under the new amendments which will see people from different islands but living outside the town area either vote in town or the rural will see registration officials actually meeting voters face to face to register them.

In some cases like on the islands where the two Vanuatu towns are located, Santo and Efate, registration officers will not only meet voters but also landowners.

With the new amendment to Cap 146 the islander voter who works in town but lives in a piece of land in the rural which was given to him or her by a land owner can vote with the land owner outside the town constituency.

Vanuatu Daily Post

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