Friday, 23 July 2010 8:35 AM

Election Date Will Not Change: Electoral Commission

The Electoral Commission has assured the people of Temotu Vatud that their polling day will be the same as the rest of the country - Wednesday 4 August.

Chief Electoral Officer, Mr Polycarp Haununu, made the confirmation in response to reports that a candidate had requested an extension of the election date because of recent bad weather.

"The Electoral Commission is not satisfied under Section 65 (1) of the Electoral Act that it should direct the Returning Officer to appoint a new date to hold the election."

Recent bad weather has caused rough seas in Temotu Province but the Act specifies 'storm' conditions, which are caused by significantly worse weather.

"Conducting elections in Solomon Islands has always been difficult because of our many islands, unpredictable weather combined with poor communications and transport," Mr Haununu said.

Mr Haununu sympathized with candidates and electoral officials across the country for the recent bad weather in Temotu Province.

"Bad weather and transport difficulties are the reality of living in Solomon Islands and also conducting the National General Election - and we must all endeavor to do our best under these difficult conditions," Mr Haununu said.

Mr Haununu said that the Electoral Commission drama and awareness team currently in Reef Islands, Temotu Province, has been hampered by the same rough seas.

"We ask for the patience of voters with the constant changes in the awareness schedule."

Mr Haununu said that other election preparations are running smoothly with 13 days to go until election day.

"Nominations have been finalised at 509 candidates including 25 women; ballot papers have been printed for Central, Isabel, Makira, Renbel, Temotu and Western Provinces, and polling day materials have been dispatched to Western, Choiseul and Isabel Provinces," Mr Haununu said.

Training of presiding officers and polling assistants has also begun in some provinces and will continue next week.

Mr Haununu said that people wanting to hear important election information should listen to the Electoral Commission awareness program on SIBC, Tuesday 6.35am, Saturday evenings after the 7 o'clock news and Sunday evening 6.40pm.

"Our aim is to give people as much awareness as possible about how to vote, penalties and the election process so that everyone from candidates, voters and election observers can help the Electoral Commission conduct a free, fair and safe election," Mr Haununu said.