7 Jan 2008

Marshalls vote recount tips balance in favour of ruling party

2:47 pm on 7 January 2008

A previously announced four-vote victory by a key opposition candidate was reversed in a weekend vote recount in the Marshall Islands.

The decision gives the incumbent cabinet minister a six-vote win, and increases the likelihood that the governing United Democratic Party will return for a third term.

But an opposition spokesman, Senator-elect Tony deBrum, described the whole election as tainted.

He said the government should be ashamed of the way it handled the recount because it counted dozens of additional votes that had been rejected in the original tabulation in November.

The change gives the ruling UDP a one-vote lead over the opposition 15-14 going into today's parliament opening and the election of a new president.

But both are still short of the 17-vote majority needed to form a government, with four independents holding the balance of power.