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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center

With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

Vanuatu Provincial Elections See Low Turnouts
Less than half of registered voters turn up in Shea province

By Ricky Binihi

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, Feb. 14, 2013) – Late last night and again this morning the presidents of Vanuatu political parties that had candidates contesting the Penama, Malampa, Shefa and Tafea elections have been busying negotiating the formation of the government in the four provinces.

But not all the 112,966 registered voters that were registered to vote in the Provinces went to the polls yesterday with some areas like Efate in Shefa province and Pentecost in Penama experiencing the lowest provincial election turnout ever.

Vanuatu went to polls to elect the 52 Members of the 10th Legislature on October last year, and four months later the voters of the four provinces were asked to elect 74 councilors of the provinces.

On North Pentecost in Penama the Daily Post was told that there was a poor turnout in the election even though there were suggestions that the Iauko Group which is fielding candidates under that banner for the first time had been a threat to the major parties.

But across in Ambae the Secretary General of the Penama Province Mr. Georgewin Garae said the turnout was better compared to the National 2012 elections.

In Epi, Shefa where the voters voted MP Isaac Hamariliu and naturalized citizen MP Robert Bohn during the 2012 National Elections the voters turned out in their numbers for the Provincial Elections.

However that success in massive voting could not be shared in other constituencies.

For instance, Shefa presiding officer in Matantapoa polling station in Efate Mr. Tom Roy said out of the 1,014 voters registered to vote there only "3-400 voted after 1:30pm yesterday."

That scenario seems to be reflected in many of other polling stations in the four provinces.

In Tanna on Tafea province, local Tanna radio news presenter David Kiel said from what they observed with members of the Police Force at Imaki in the South, Whitesands in the East, and Isangel in West, very few people turned out to vote.

"More people voted in the national elections as not that many could be seen today," Mr. Kiel told the Daily Post after 4pm yesterday.

In Malampa too it was reported that in some areas there was very poor voter turnout and already some are expecting new faces in the 21-member Malampa province.

Provincial Elections closed at 4:30 pm yesterday but in smaller constituencies had "unofficially" closed after lunch yesterday and the counting of votes started when the Daily Post went to print yesterday.

Four of the provinces that went to elections had been governed by the parties in the Opposition.

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