183 Candidates Declared Eligible For Vanuatu Elections

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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

Opposition bloc intends to contest despite alleged debt obligation

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Jan. 7, 2016) – In Vanuatu after a delay of two days, 183 candidates have been declared eligible to take part in the country's snap general election on the 22nd of January.

A number of political parties had already launched their campaigns to start pending the declaration from the Electoral Office of the names of the eligible candidates, which were read out towards midnight last night.

The Electoral Chairman Killian Taleo says a total of 264 candidates had been screened for outstanding debts and the number was reduced to 183.

[PIR editor’s note: On Jan. 7, 2015 RNZI reported that ‘Vanuatu's former prime minister and the leader of the opposition bloc says a failed constitutional appeal does not mean they won't stand for election. ... In December, Joe Natuman and 23 other then-opposition MPs sought to overturn President Baldwin Lonsdale's decision to dissolve parliament, which was rejected by the Supreme Court. ... Our correspondent in Port Vila says there have been allegations that the former MPs are unable to contest the January 22nd election because they are yet to pay legal fees to the president. ... But Joe Natuman says they are yet to receive an invoice, which means they can contest the elections.’]

Our correspondent says those candidates still intending to contest have 72 hours during which to settle their outstanding debts to qualify to contest.

He says rumours that some of the 14 jailed former MPs had also submitted their names to contest had led to the Chairman of the Electoral Commission warning that any such act would be deemed a contempt of court.

Meanwhile, according to the Daily Post Newspaper, the National United Party has 10 candidates, Vanuaaku Pati 13, Union of Moderate Parties 9, Prime Minister Sato Kilman's People's Progressive Party 5, Ground and Justice Party 7 and 41 independent candidates.

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