KIRIBATI GEARS UP FOR OCTOBER ELECTIONS

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Candidacy filings close tomorrow

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Sept. 28, 2011) – Nominations for the general elections in Kiribati close tomorrow, following which ballot papers will be printed and delivered to the 23 electoral districts.

The country is due to go to the polls on October the 21st, with a run-off election to be held the following week.

The Chief Electoral Officer, Rini Ueara, says electoral officers are now on each island conducting awareness campaigns.

"We’re trying to encourage them by saying how important the elections are. We’re trying to tell them how to fill in the ballot paper, because in the past we’ve always has a high number of invalid papers. From the census report, now it’s about 60,000 people who are 18 and over, and we are trying to get close to that number."

She says because voting isn’t compulsory, previous elections in Kiribati have seen low turnout.

[PIR editor's note: Low voter turnout has been a concern in the past for Kiribati's election years, with electoral officials visiting different islands earlier in 2011 to bring awareness to more remote communities so citizens do not miss their chance to support candidates. For the current year, parliament members encouraged women to run for positions in the parliamentary election, saying they have achieved successes in mock parliament exercises with impressive performances.]

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