4 candidates disqualified for Olbiil Era Kelulau, 3 lawsuits pending

 By: L.N. Reklai

September 16, 2016 (Koror) With national primary election only 11 days away, Palau Election Commission (PEC) is in a hot seat, with demands, complaints and a lawsuits filed against it. Four candidates for Olbiil Era Kelulau have been disqualified by PEC and 3 lawsuits have been filed against it.

Senator Joel Toribiong with 4 other plaintiffs filed a lawsuit against Election Commission yesterday, bringing a total of lawsuits filed against the Commission in the last month to three (3).  A suit filed by Emory Mesubed is scheduled for hearing while the two (2) lawsuits by Senator Joel Toribiong and party and suit by Dwight Alexander were just filed yesterday.


Joel Toribiong and other plaintiffs Richard Silmai, Ephraim Ngirachitei, Moses Yobech, Israel demei and Richard Sandei, in their suit are contending that the Election Commission’s interpretation of 23 PNC Section 1401 (a) is wrong and should be rejected.

Toribiong and the plaintiffs are demanding the court declare that a person who is eligible to vote, must register to vote in the Republic of Palau.  They demand that the court order Election Commission to remove names of voters who registered outside of the Republic and invalidate and declare those who registered to vote outside of Palau not entitled to vote until and unless they register to vote within Palau.

To date Election Commission has disqualified 4 candidates for OEK.  Dwight Alexander, candidate for Delegate of Ngaraard State and Mengkur Rechelulk, candidate for Delegate of Koror State were disqualified for not meeting the time table for candidates who are directors in the government to resign from their government posts.  Jennifer Sugiyama, also one of three candidates for delegate of Koror State was latest to be disqualified. Ms. Sugiyama and Tiare Holms (candidate for delegate of Ngardmau State) were disqualified due to having dual citizenship.  With the disqualification of Sugiyama and Rechelulk, it leaves the remaining candidate for Koror State unopposed, incumbent Delegate Alexander Merep.

Senate President Senator Camsek Chin, in a letter sent to Election Commission yesterday, also demanded that the Election Commission “purged” the Voters Registry by removing names of those that do not meet the legal residency requirement.

Senator Chin stated that the affidavit is not enough and urged Election Commission to require further documentation from overseas voters that can support their residency requirement.

In his letter, Chin expressed concern that Election Commission was now requiring candidates with dual citizenship to renounce their non-palauan citizenship prior to placing their names on the ballot.  According to Chin, this “appears” to be a new policy “since in the previous elections candidates with dual citizenship were permitted to wait until after the election to renounce non-Palauan citizenship.”

Furthermore, Chin expressed that the candidates who were disqualified due to dual citizenship status and as well as the civil service employees who did not resign from their positions on timely basis be allowed to run for office since they were not “informed of the policy before hand.”

The first page of the Nominating Petition for candidates for Olbiil Era Kelulau states the qualifications for members of Olbiil Era Kelulau and requires petitioners to sign that the candidate meets all the qualifications for OEK.  The first qualification requirement states; He/She is a citizen of Palau only. The petition also includes a Question for Candidate which requires each candidate to answer, sign and submit to Election Commission.   The very first question asked of the candidates for House or Senate is “Are you a citizen of palau only?”

23 PNC Section 1104 (b) require all candidates who government civil service employees to resign their position within 14 days of filing their nominations.  Candidate Dwight Alexander is challenging EC that he was informed to resign after he had already missed the deadline and then told after he resigned that he was not qualified.

The Senate President’s letter was sent yesterday to Palau Election Commission and no response from yet from the Election Commission. [/restrict]