One of the candidates in the Palau presidential election has thrown in the towel.
Vice President Raynold Oilouch has conceded to his opponent, Surangel Whipps Jr., while around 2,000 absentee ballots are still waiting to be tabulated by the Palau election commission, according to a report from the Pacific Island Times.
In his concession statement, Oilouch congratulated his opponent and said the election is over and the people have spoken.
While absentee votes remain uncounted, Oilouch said given the wide gap of the votes between him and Whipps, the “right thing to do” is to accept the Palauans’ choice.
All votes cast in Palau had been tabulated as of Wednesday night. Preliminary results showed Whipps Jr. holding a clear advantage with a lead of 1,202 votes over Oilouch.
Tommy Remengesau’s second term as president expires this year. The new president will take over the nation’s pending initiatives such as the renegotiation of the expiring terms of the Compact of Free Association as well as Palau’s offer to accommodate more military presence within its jurisdiction.
Palauans also cast their votes for senators and members of the House of Delegates. Palau has no political parties, and all candidates are running as independents.
Whipps and Oilouch advanced to the general election after the September primary that eliminated Alan Seid and another former president —- Johnson Toribiong.
Whipps, a local businessman, ran on a platform that backs tax reforms and expanded investments in education.
Oilouch, who branded himself as a “grassroots candidate,” campaigned for the preservation of Palau’s way of life and identity.
In a press conference on Wednesday, Pacific Island Times said Remengesau told local reporters that a transition process will be implemented for the new administration.
The president also had a meeting with the other government heads to list down the work that needs to be done before the transition takes place.
Whipps Jr. is the former senator and brother-in-law of the outgoing president while Oilouch is the current Vice President of Palau
Remengesau did not endorse any of the two candidates.