Provincial elections will be held in the provinces of Penama, Malampa, Shefa and Tafea on March 23, 2017.

This has been declared by the Electoral Commission in Port Vila.

In line with Section 18A of the Decentralization Act (CAP. 230), the four year terms of the four councils have come to an end and it is time to elect new councils, the Electoral Commission has stated in a press release issued this week.

“The Electoral Commission has now declared Thursday 23 March, 2017 will be the day for elections for Penama, Malampa, Shefa and Tafea Provinces,” it announced. The Commission has also announced the dates and logistics approved for the elections.

Applications to contest the elections by candidates and proxy applications open on Monday, February 13, 2017.

Closing date for lodging of application forms with the Commission is 4.30 PM on Monday, February 27, 2017.

Declaration of candidates qualified to contest the elections will be made on Monday, March 6, 2017.

Campaign will start on Monday, March 6, 2017.

Campaigns will close on Monday, March 20, 2017 at 12 midnight.

Applications for proxies and duplicate voting cards will close at 4.30 PM on Friday, March 3, 2017.

Thursday, March 23, 2017 will be the day for people to go and vote.

The Electoral Commission is informing registered voters in the four provinces wishing to contest the election to go to the headquarters of the provinces to pick and fill in application forms as required under the law.

Each candidate must pay a total fee of Vt22,000 composed of Vt2,000 non-refundable fee for Application From and Vt20,000 candidate fee (non-refundable after closing date of application forms), to the government cashier at the provincial headquarters. Each candidate must attach official receipts to his/her application form when sent to the Electoral Office.

Also attached to the application form must be two passport-size photos (black and white) with the correct name of the candidate printed in the back of each photo. It is important too to add mobile phone contact details to the application.

The Electoral Commission is asking every political party to observe Part 2 of the Local Government Council Election Rules that talks about those people not qualified to run for office in the Local Government Council: (a) President of the Republic; (b) Judges and Magistrates; (c) Members of Parliament; (d) Members of the Police Force; (e) Members of the National Council of Chiefs; (f) a Civil Servant; (g) Members of the Teaching Service Commission; (h) an employee of a Local Government Council; (i) a councilor of a Municipality; (j) a person who has a debt with a council unpaid for over two months; and (k) a person who hold the position of chairman, vice chairman, secretary or treasurer of a district council of chiefs, island council of chiefs and area council of chiefs.

A person who is eligible for a local government council election is: (a) a citizen of Vanuatu; (b) a person registered to vote in the local government region; (c) a person who does not have a court sentence including a suspended sentence which term is not yet completed; and (d) a man or woman who is 21 years of age and over.

The chairman of the Electoral Commission, Martin Tete, is appealing to political parties and candidates not to wait until the last minutes to start their process for contesting the elections, and the populations of Penama, Malampa, Shefa and Tafea to work together with the Electoral Office and the Electoral Commission to achieve successful elections in the provinces.

Jonas Cullwick, a former General Manager of VBTC is now a Senior Journalist with the Daily Post. Contact: jonas@dailypost.vu. Cell # 678 5460922

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