11 Oct 2012

Vanua'aku Party slates suspension of electoral commissioner

1:58 pm on 11 October 2012

The head of Vanuatu's opposition Vanua'aku Party says a decision by the caretaker Minister of Internal Affairs to suspend the electoral commissioner three weeks before the election is political interference.

The minister George Wells has suspended Lawson Samuel and transferred him to head the Remuneration Tribunal while the director of the Labour Department, Lionel Kalwat, has stepped in as acting electoral commissioner.

Mr Wells' decisions have now delayed the publication of the names of election candidates which were to be released last night.

The president of the Vanua'aku Party Edward Natapei says he believes the government is unhappy with the list of candidates and is trying to change it.

"Government should not be seen to be interfering with the electoral process. That should be a totally independent body and they should be allowed to decide on dates. They should be allowed to screen each candidate and approve the names of qualified candidates to contest in this election."

Edward Natapei.

No reason has been given for the suspension of the electoral commissioner but George Wells says it will be made after the election.