Court rules in favour of Vohor faction of UMP as provincial election campaigns close

A number of interesting stories are before us at the start of this election week, not all to do with the four provinces voting Thursday. However, the court ruling over UMP’s factional dispute is now out in print and a victory in every way for good governance and the State, which here amounts to the Electoral Commission and Department. The Jacques Meriango faction had Friday morning sought a stay order following the earlier ruling that the Serge Vohor faction retains the authority in UMP. The Vohor faction alone is entitled to use the UMP name, colour, slogan and logo at the elections. The stay order would have affected the election date, printing of ballot papers and finalising polling station management. Lawyers for both sides were heard. The stay order was quashed, and some would-be UMP Meriango candidates chose to remain with the Vohor faction. The majority went to the Reunification Movement for Change of Prime Minister Salwai.

Campaigning for the provincial elections in Penama, Malampa, Shefa and Tafea ended Monday night and ballot papers and other relevant official documents are arriving or have arrived at their destinations. Voting at Point Cross, Pentecost, will proceed despite the recent village disturbances there.

Also of note in the electioneering stakes is the very large number of women candidates standing for election despite the lack of any constitutional change to reserve seats for women. Eleven women will contest in Penama, Shefa and Tafea. None are standing in Malampa.

Some of the former politicians imprisoned for corruption and bribery have had their applications for parole refused by Correctional Services. Tony Wright is being treated for a kidney condition, but has not supplied a written application to the Parole Board. Arnold Prasad has a diabetes and needed an operation, which he received. Others seeking parole on compassionate grounds (not yet granted) are John Amos, Paul Telukluk and Silas Yatan. Steven Kalsakau and Serge Vohor will be eligible for release by the Parole Board next month, but applications will, of course, be necessary.

The first of 31 new public buildings funded by the Australian Government is eagerly anticipated by the Vanuatu Society for People with Disability. The new facility is to be built by Loli Construction and BJ Consulting and is greatly needed following the depredations of Cyclone Pam.

Last, but certainly not least: Government working hours have been amended by the Public Service Commission. Official working hours are now 8 am—12 noon and 1 pm—5 pm.