The Pacific island nation of Vanuatu goes to the polls Friday despite thousands of newly eligible voters being unable to cast a ballot in the snap election called after a corruption scandal rocked the government. A lack of time since the vote was called in late November meant the electoral rolls could not be updated, Electoral Commission chairman John Killion Taleo, told AFP Wednesday. Radio New Zealand reported Wednesday more than 3,000 young people were not on the electoral roll. Only the 200,159 people on the electoral roll last July will be allowed to cast a ballot. The 52-member parliament was dissolved in late November by President Baldwin Lonsdale after 14 lawmakers were jailed for bribery in the impoverished Pacific archipelago.
The political breakdown in Port Vila follows a period of instability with four changes of prime ministers in the past four years. “This is a significant election for the people of Vanuatu in view of recent developments and the constant political challenges in the country,” Hubert Ingraham, who is chairing a Commonwealth observer group at the election, said Wednesday.
Ingraham, a former prime minister of The Bahamas, urged the people of Vanuatu to “exercise their right to vote”. However, Taleo told AFP people who have reached the voting age of 18 since July were still not on the roll. “We did not have enough time to prepare,” he said.