25 Jan 2016

Vanuatu election winners confident of forming government

4:47 pm on 25 January 2016

A newly-elected MP for Vanuatu's capital, Port Vila, says he is confident the multi-party bloc he is part of will get the numbers needed to form the next government.

Kenneth Natapei

Kenneth Natapei Photo: RNZI / Jamie Tahana

Kenneth Natapei, the son of the recently-deceased former Prime Minister Edward Natapei, was elected to one of the town's six seats in snap elections on Friday.

His Vanua'aku party has entered into a bloc with several other parties, including the Graon mo Jastis Pati and National United Party, to try to gain the majority needed to form a government and make constitutional changes hoped to end years of political instability.

Mr Natapei says the bloc needs to win the support of some independent MPs to form a government, but he is confident that will happen and that it will last a full term.

"We will keep together. We signed an agreement a few weeks before the campaign, so we are trying to gather all our numbers together and try and see if we can have a simple majority to run the next government."

Election monitors satisfied

Foreign observers have largely commended Vanuatu's election, despite some complaints about the registration process and polling irregularities.

The Commonwealth's observer mission says despite some minor issues, the election was an orderly and peaceful affair.

The head of the electoral office, John Taleo, has said the office struggled to organise an election that was only announced last month with only ten staff and very limited resources.

He says the electoral roll is overinflated with many ghost names.

The chair of the Commonwealth mission, Hubert Ingraham, says the office should be commended for how it performed, but the mission has made a number of recommendations.

"That the electoral commission be mandated to undertake a continuous voter registration process, develop an electronic and alphabetical register, thirdly, provide for photographic voter identification, and four, remove deceased person from the register."