Mixed Turnout For Port Vila Municipal Polls In Vanuatu

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Three polling stations also show mixed results for parties

By Thompson Marango and Godwin Ligo

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, Jan. 9, 2014) – In Vanuatu, two Polling Stations, Fresh Water School and Ex-FOL, were open until 11 o’clock last night while others closed at 4:30 pm when Port Vila Municipality went to the polls to elect its new Council yesterday.

Counting continued late into the night but Daily Post managed to get unofficial results from three polling stations, namely, Chief’s Nakamal, the Town Hall, Anamburu and Fresh Water.

According to results obtained from the Chief’s Nakamal Polling Station, Alfred Raulu from the Union of Moderate Parties (UMP) came on top with 450 votes, followed by Eric Festa of the Prime Minister’s Green Confederation Party. The reserve seat of the polling station goes to Marie Kalkoa, an independent candidate of UMP, who allegedly beats existing female counselor, Jenny Tasale by far.

Unofficial results obtained from the Town Polling Station, shows that in the general seats, Graon and Jastis Party leads followed by UMP and VP. In the reserve seat, unofficial result obtained indicates that Graon and Jastis party leads followed by VP and NUP although exact figures could not be obtained.

At Anamburu Polling Station, at 12:45am unofficial results shows Mamkan Sumtoh of UMP was leading with 410 votes in the general seats while counting was still going on.

At Fresh Water, unofficial results obtained shows that Green Confederation Party leads in the first and second place, while counting continues, and in the reserve seat Green also takes the lead.

Of 3391 registered voters at Fresh Water, only 1320 turned up.

Counting at the Chiefs Nakamal and the Town Hall were already in progress when Daily Post visited the Polling Stations at around 6:00 pm.

At the Anamburu School voters drifted in to vote after 4:30 pm and likewise at the Fresh Water School and the Ex-FOL which opened for voting at around 2:00 pm.

Vila North School Polling Station voters were still coming in to vote after 4:30 pm while the Anglican Church Polling Station closed when Daily Post called there at around 5:00 pm and counting was to start shortly thereafter.

At Dumbea Hall, the Polling Station had to re-open to allow for registered voters to exercise their rights to vote after 4:30 pm.

Some of the eight Polling Stations reported good turn-outs of voters while a number of Stations commented to Daily Post that the turn-outs were very low in the overall percentage. Chief’s Nakamal and Town Hall Polling Stations were said to have experienced very low turnout of voters, compared to that of the General Election, although figures are yet to be provided.

Anamburu School and Vila North School on the other hand reported a good turn out by voters. When Daily Post called at the Polling Stations voters were still going in to cast their votes and the Presiding Officers commended the registered voters in these Stations.

In Fresh Water/Tassiriki Ward, the two polling stations at EX-FOL and Fresh Water School were the last to close around 11 pm due to a 6 hour delay ordered by the Supreme Court.

At Dumbea Hall a Presiding Officer said the turn-out was around 40%. Daily Post was not able to compare the previous Municipal Polling percentage with yesterday’s percentage.

Some Polling Stations’ Presiding Officers predicted their counting would continue until around 11:00 pm or even beyond before the unofficial results are known apart from the Chiefs Nakamal and the Town Hall.

The Polling Station at Chiefs Nakamal had 3 general seats and 2 reserve seats. Counting was still going on when Daily Post visited the station at around 5.45 pm.

The Fresh Water Polling Presiding Officers told Daily Post that some voters who were registered to vote at EX-FOL called there and had to be re-directed to EX-FOL to cast their votes at their correct Polling Station. One voter left after it was discovered his name and card registered number were different.

A number of voters had to be referred back to the Electoral Office to have their cards corrected with their names on the Electoral Roll before they returned to vote.

The Electoral Office (through Presiding Officers) had to allow for the Stations to open late due to voters turning up late and others that needed their cards to be corrected to allow them to exercise their constitutional rights to vote for the candidates of their choice.

This is the first time in the history of the Port Vila Municipal Elections that some Polling Stations opened beyond 4:30 pm and even after 6:00 pm; one reason why the Fresh Water and Ex-FOL Polling Stations opened at around 2:00 pm.

The Electoral Office and Commission Officials told Daily Post that despite two arrests confirmed by Electoral Commission Chairman Killion Taleo, the overall Poll yesterday was peaceful and quiet.

Commenting on the low turn-out in a number of Polling Stations, the Electoral Commission and Electoral Office officials say, it has to be understood that the laws are not compulsory for voting in Vanuatu’s elections and even if the voters have valid registered cards to vote, it is up to them to come forward and cast their votes which is their discretion under the national constitution.

The Electoral Commission and Office officials however stated that it is disappointing when Polling Day is declared a public holiday for the registered voters to cast their votes but do not turn up even if it is their rights.

Counting was still continuing in other Polling Stations when Daily Post went to press at 12.45am.

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