21 Nov 2007

Preliminary results from Marshall Islands national election are now not expected for days

7:47 am on 21 November 2007

The preliminary results from the Marshall Islands national election are not expected for days, with counting proceeding at a snail's pace following a disorganised and complaint-ridden voting day Monday.

The last polling stations did not close until nearly 5 am Tuesday after the government issued an emergency decree that most polling locations stay open well beyond the required 7 pm closing because they were so late to open on voting day.

The electoral chief Carl Alik announced that ballot counting for Majuro would start at 9 am Tuesday.

But the first of about 30 boxes with an estimated 10,000 ballots was not opened until 11:30 am, and actual counting of the first 33 ballots out of 310 in the box did not start until after 5 pm yesterday.

A group from the Pacific Islands Forum is observing this election, and is expected to issue a detailed report on their findings with recommendations for improvements for the next election.

Meanwhile, reports from Ebeye Island, the country's second major urban center, and from many of the outer islands indicated that voting and counting has proceeded relatively smoothly in those locations.