Pacific Islands Forum Observer Update from the 2016 Nauru Elections

The Pacific Islands Forum Team observed the pre-polling environment, polling and the count in the 2016 Nauru general election.

Prior to polling the Forum Team met with a range of stakeholders including Members of Parliament, senior government officials, candidates, academia, civil society and representatives of youth, women and disability organisations.                                                                                                  

On Saturday 9 July 2016, the Team observed polling in 13 of the 14 districts in Nauru and the count which concluded at midday the following day. The Forum Team is currently observing the polling in Aiwo District, which was deferred to Monday due to a court challenge. The Aiwo polling station opened at 9am on Monday 11 July, and is progressing well.

The Forum Team is of the view that polling was safe, free and fair. There were no observed indications of voter intimidation or attempts to disrupt polling. The people of Nauru have exercised their democratic and fundamental right to elect their members of Parliament. Team member Mr Boki Raga, from PNG noted “The team is aware of some specific pre-polling environment issues that have been raised relating to candidates access to the media, voter transfers, the low number of women candidates, and the resignation requirements for public officials. These have been considered by us and will be addressed in our report.”

The Team’s report will be submitted to the Nauru Electoral Commissioner and the Government of Nauru by the Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum, Dame Meg Taylor.

The Forum Team observed the opening of polling on Saturday 9 July, and visited all polling stations at least once during the day. Team member Ms Gail Owen noted “the New Electoral Act requirements including specific electoral reforms such as the longer opening hours and the need for voters to present identification were implemented by polling officials and were well accepted by the public.”

Closing was observed by the Team, including the transport of ballot boxes to the counting center under police escort. Counting commenced at approximately 7pm on Saturday and was conducted efficiently, with live reporting by Nauru media including through social media . Team Leader Mr Elliot Udui said he was “pleased to note that counting was completed in record time due to the introduction of streamlined counting processes.” Mr Udui went on to congratulate the Nauru Electoral Commission saying, “we were impressed by the professionalism and competence of polling and counting officials, also noting the tight timeframe for the preparation for the election.”

The Forum Team observed the formation of government and the election of the Speaker of Parliament and Nauru’s new President today,