7 Jan 2016

Vanuatu candidate screening criticised

4:44 pm on 7 January 2016

A former MP in Vanuatu says he should have been cleared to contest this month's snap election, accusing the Electoral Office of poor screening processes.

After a delay of two days, the office late last night released the official candidates list with 183 names.

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Photo: RNZ / Walter Zweifel

However, 81 people were declared ineligible, including two current caretaker ministers, the former opposition leader, Ham Lini, and the former speaker of parliament, Philip Boedoro.

Mr Boedoro says his name was left off because of an issue relating to a firearms licence, which he denies.

He says he is clear and should be allowed to campaign, and blames the Electoral Office for not screening candidates properly.

"I think I had done all the things that they required and I believe that there was nothing that they did not do. I think they have a problem with the screening."

Philip Boedoro says the Electoral Office has conceded that he should be on the list.

Other candidates who did not make the list have 72 hours to appeal.

Forum to send observers

The Pacific Islands Forum has accepted an invitation from Vanuatu to send an observer group to the snap elections.

Despite the short notice, the Forum's acting director of political governance and security says delegates from Tonga and the Cook Islands have confirmed their availability and will be going to Vanuatu next week with Forum executives.

Sione Tekiteki says the regional observer mission will be monitoring Vanuatu's electoral process not only to assess compliance with national statutes and regulations but also to learn from and share any lessons learned with member countries.

"For example both the chairman of the (Vanuatu) commission John Taleo as well as the supervisor of the (Vanuatu) elections Father Charles Vatu have participated in Forum missions in the past years. So I think that is the uniqueness in terms of the Forum's observation."

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Photo: PIF