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Vanuatu youth denied chance to vote

Tuesday 19 January 2016 | Published in Regional

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Thousands of first-time voters unable to register

PORT VILA – A youth advocacy group in Vanuatu says this Friday’s snap election will deny thousands of young people their constitutional rights.

The president of the organisation Vanuatu Youth Against Corruption, Priscilla Meto, says more than 70 per cent of people who turned 18 after the last election in 2012 will be unable to vote on Friday.

She says this is because of the rushed nature of the snap election the Electoral Commission has been unable to issue new electoral cards to many young people.

Meto says this is unfair as it means more than 3000 young people will not be able to exercise their right to vote, and will have to wait until 2020 to be heard.

“It will be very unfair because most of the youth will not be casting their vote to participate in this election to show what they want during this snap election.”

The chairman of the Commonwealth secretariat’s observer mission says Friday’s snap elections in Vanuatu is a significant one for the country and will pose many challenges.

Hubert Ingraham, who is the former prime minister of the Bahamas, says the election’s sudden nature means the organisation only had a few days to assemble a five-person observer team.

However, despite the team being smaller than a usual observer mission, he is satisfied it will be able to adequately monitor nationwide and determine whether the elections meet democratic standards.

Ingraham says he is aware of several concerns with the process so far – particularly people who turned 18 after 2012 not being able to register – but he says problems are to be expected considering the circumstances.

“This particular election came about under special circumstances. Ordinarily the election would have been due here in November of this year.

“Ordinarily, registration of voters would be continuing now. These are not ordinary times, and sometimes in extraordinary times you end up not being able to have a perfect solution to a problem.”

- RNZI