Campaigning is officially underway in Vanuatu’s snap election set for January 22 amid confusion over the number of candidates taking part. Parliament was dissolved and elections announced late last year after 14 of the Government’s MPs were jailed in October to serve three-to-four-year jail terms, thus losing their seats in accordance with the constitution. More than 250 potential candidates applied to contest the election’s 52 seats, but many are yet to be approved — prevented from taking part until they repay government debts. Parties and candidates should have settled any outstanding monies owed to the Government, or its agencies, and receipts of payment provided to the Electoral Office earlier this week.
Electoral commission chairman John Killeon Taleo told ABC’s Pacific Beat program the full list of candidates should be revealed within three days. “The names of some of the candidates were not accepted last night, meaning they have 72 hours to resubmit their application,” he said.
At least 10 former MPs convicted on bribery charges had applied to contest the elections that were brought on by their jailing. Electoral Office adviser Martin Tete said his department had already removed nine of the names from the list.