Electoral chaos as candidates names absent from list due to outstanding debts to Govt

Angry election candidates, almost all of whom have been down this road before and should know better, made headlines late yesterday and this morning. Willie Jimmy, who has stood for election in probably more parties than anyone else and has started yet another party for this election, in a fit of belligerent pique, sent a group of furious supporters to Brodkas Haos to complain that more than half of his candidates did not have their names read out in the official candidates list. Of course, VBTC does not compile the list, the Electoral Office does, so Jimmy’s fit of rage at VBTC is either incredibly misguided, ill-informed or just plain stupid.

Neither Prime Minister Sato Kilman, Speaker Dunstan Hilton, or FM107’s Saby Natonga were on the list. The reason, as explained by the adviser to the Electoral Commission Martin Tete last night, was that these individuals owe the Government outstanding fees and taxes. Another catch may have to do with adoption or island of origin and could be the reason for the refusal of applicants such as Robert Bohn Jr. and Wendy Himford. The complete list of non-accepted candidates was to be given out over Radio Vanuatu this morning. Those refused in this manner have 72 hours to fully honour their debts to Government. As with previous elections, foreign businessmen will quickly be found to ‘cough up’ the cash needed and the errant would-be MPs will be back in the running on the final list by Monday, albeit with new debts that must be paid back in kind to their new-found benefactors.

We are monitoring VBTC for the list of refused candidates and will publish when available.

Most electors will consider the removal of the Principal Electoral Officer Lawson Samuel yesterday, after a late night meeting of the Council of Ministers (CoM) the previous night, further Government interference in a matter which should have zero involvement from Ministers of state. It is not known whether Lawson Samuel will seek a judicial review of his transfer. The task is made harder by the Public Service Commission employing a chairman who cannot be found between his different hotel addresses.

In Daily Post this morning, Willie Ben Karie, also speaking on behalf of Harry Collins, complains of the Government interference in the work of the Police Service Commission in terminating both commissioners without a reason given. The Chief Justice agrees there is a case to be answered and this will take place on 24 October.