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Toribiong want the people to decide

By Jose Señase SAIPAN, CNMI Islands (Marianas Variety, Dec. 31, 2010) – Palau’s President, Johnson Toribiong signed into law last Wednesday the amended casino referendum bill.

"In a democratic society, the people are supreme and now they are called upon to render the final decision on this controversial issue," Toribiong said. Let the people decide."

According to the new law, the referendum will be held from 120 to 180 days after the effective date of the Act.

The election commission will announce the date of the referendum not later than 90 days prior to the date on which it will be conducted.

Those who are qualified to vote but are not registered may submit their application to vote in accordance with applicable laws. Any person who is currently registered in the general registry need not re-register in order to vote in the referendum.

If a majority of votes cast are in favor of a casino, the national legislature must pass a bill creating a casino gaming commission.

If majority of voters oppose the casino, the national legislature can no longer reconsider the issue.

The new law provides for a neutral community education process and states that the election commission will get US$30,000 for the conduct of the referendum.

The bill was first approved by both houses of the national legislature last November.

But Toribiong returned it to lawmakers with proposed amendments.

The House of Delegates then passed the amended bill by a vote of 13-3 while the Senate approved it, 6-5.

Last year Toribiong vetoed a casino bill citing the lack of a referendum provision.

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