Election controversy continues to dog Marshalls Islands

Six weeks after a controversy-plagued national election in the Marshall Islands the chief electoral officer has ordered recounts in two seats which had been decided by four or fewer votes.

As well, United States-based voters have appealed to the Marshall's High Court to allow their votes, which, if counted, could change the results in several of the close races.

Many of the postal votes were rejected because they missed deadlines, while other overseas voters did not receive their voting papers in time.

The government's chief electoral officer Carl Alik has announced that recounts for Maloelap and Likiep Atolls will be held next Thursday.

The ruling United Democratic Party lost its 20-seat majority in the 33-seat parliament, but the opposition Aelon Kein Ad party also did not win an outright majority.

Both parties have been negotiating with independent candidates to form a new government.

Final vote results show a very low turnout with only half of all registered voters casting votes, down 14 percent from the 2003 election.

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