The provincial elections processes for Penama, Malampa, Shefa and Tafea are once again back on track.
This is after the Supreme Court on Friday morning dismissed an application from the Jacque Meriango faction for a stay order following the court ruling earlier in the week that the faction led by Serge Vohor is the one allowed to use the Union of Moderate Parties (UMP) name, colour, slogan and logo at the elections.
The State representing the Electoral Commission and the Electoral Office argued that any stay order would severely hamper the work of holding the elections as all the deadlines and dates for logistical arrangements had been gazetted and made law.
The State argued that a stay order would delay printing of ballots further and add to the challenge of deploying the papers to the polling centres on time for polling on Thursday, March 23. The judge after listening to lawyers of both sides dismissed the application by the Meriango faction.
Chairman of the Electoral Commission, Martin Tete, said after the ruling, the Commission gave Jacque Meriango’s faction that had fielded 20 candidates until 4.30PM on Friday to decide on a new name, colour and logo so printing could start earnestly.
“However, they decided to affiliate with existing parties. Some went to UMP and the majority to Reunification of Movement for Change (RMC),” he added.
The President of the Union of Moderate Parties which had 20 candidates, Serge Vohor, wrote to the Chairman of the Electoral Commission Friday informing him of the additional UMP candidates of seven people including four from Tanna and one from Ambrym following custom reconciliations that allowed them to contest under UMP.
Meanwhile, all the 4 million-plus ballot papers have now left Port Vila for the electoral centres.
Chairman Tete said on Friday the ballot papers for Erromango were flown down on a chartered flight.
On Sunday, deployment of ballots for Tanna, Malekula and Pentecost were made on normal Air Vanuatu flights.
Finally, on Sunday night, the biggest deployment left Port Vila at 10pm for the Shepherds, Tongoa, Epi, Ambrym, Pentecost, Maewo and Ambrym aboard the RVS Tukoro.
In another related development, the Chairman of the Electoral Commission said the Registration Officer of South Pentecost, Donald Wayback, has confirmed to the Prime Minister, Charlot Salwai, that voting at Point Cross polling station would go ahead as planned.
Earlier, it was feared the 500-plus voters registered for Point Cross had dispersed throughout South Pentecost area and even to north Ambrym because of a land dispute.
Political campaigns stopped on Monday at midnight.