11 Dec 2003

Straw to be drawn to decide seat in Marshall Islands

4:56 pm on 11 December 2003

The counting of votes in the Marshall Islands general election has now been completed, and after three and a half weeks of checking and counting ballots the atoll of Ailinglaplap has produced a result never before seen in the Marshalls' parliamentary history.

For the first time in seven general elections, two candidates have an equal number of votes for the same seat.

Incumbent Senator, Christopher Loeak, and his challenger, Katzuo Katjang are deadlocked at 544 votes apiece.

Our correspondent, Giff Johnson, says the electoral law spells out clearly how the issue is to be resolved,

"If the vote stands the way it is, then the way they decide that according to the election law in the Marshall Islands is the two candidates have to draw straws and whoever gets the big straw is in office for the next four years."

Giff Johnson says both candidates are expected to appeal the result to the High Court.