Bad weather dampens travel plans for Tuvalu MPs

Aerial view of Funafuti International Airport runway

Bad weather after last week’s election in Tuvalu has delayed travel to the capital for outer island MPs ahead of a prime ministerial election

Senior electoral officer Semi Malaki says official results released on Saturday saw 10 MPs returned from the last parliament along with six newcomers

Malaki says ships due to depart Funafuti Monday morning to collect MPs from other islands were not able to leave because of stormy weather.

“We have a fleet of vessels in Tuvalu that the department of marine has been told to sail to the outer islands to pick up the elected members of the parliament and bring back to the main island, Funafuti,” Malaki said.

“Hopefully by the end of this week they will all be brought back from the outer island. But we are trying to make sure that they will be here this week.”

The election and the appointment of the prime minister is done when the Governor-General, as the representative of the head of state, issues a notice for a meeting of the members of Parliament, informing them of the time and place for election of prime minister as well as the deadline for submitting nominations.

Malaki said there were challenges Tuvaluans faced before and during the polling day.

“The major challenge [were] the general public don’t understand electoral processes and provisions of the electoral laws.

“For us it is more to do with civic education which is something that we at the election office here in Tuvalu need to improve on that.

Malaki said another issue is that Tuvalu does not have an election management body.

“The election will be conducted under the office of the Prime Minister because election is in the portfolio of the Prime Minister.

“So when it comes to election, we who are working in the office of the prime minister, we do the management and the operation of the election. We leave our day job.

“But due to the lack of staff in our office, we did not have time to go out in the communities [to conduct civic education],” he said.