30 Apr 2002

Vanuatu's prime minister says the elections observer group will have an impact beyond Thusday's poll

10:33 am on 30 April 2002

The prime minister of Vanuatu, Edward Natapei, says the elections observer group, which begins its monitoring campaign today in Vanuatu, will have an impact far beyond Thursday's poll.

Don Wiseman, who is in Vanuatu to follow the election campaign for RNZI, filed this report from Port Vila......

"Mr Natapei, in a welcome to the observers, says he agreed to have them because it had the strong backing of the Electoral Commission, and because, he says, the government derives its legitimacy from a free and fair election. He says by focussing on electoral bribes and fraud, the observer group will win the government the popular support needed to strengthen the Electoral commission and to create systems that give a solid foundation for national security. The twelve-strong observer team, led by former police commissioner - and now pastor - Willie David Saul, and including people from Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and Fiji, as well as Vanuatu, will focus its attention on the larger population areas of Efate, Tanna and Santo Islands."

DUR: 46