Palauans are still awaiting the results of Tuesday’s elections that will shape Palau’s economic recovery.
According to a report from the Pacific Island Times, preliminary results in the presidential race, from five precincts as of 2 a.m. Wednesday showed Senator Surangel Whipps Jr. leading over Vice President Raynold Oilouch by a small margin. Whipps received 1,169 votes against Oilouch’s 1,063.
The two are vying to succeed Tommy Remengesau, whose second term 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.
According to PIT’s latest update on its Facebook page last night, “Digital counting of ballots have begun with Ngarchelong state ballots first.”
Whipps and Oilouch advanced to the general election after the September primary that eliminated Alan Seid and Johnson Toribiong.
In the primary, Whipps had a wide lead over Oilouch, which according to local political observers, gave a sneak preview of the final outcome of the presidential race.
Whipps, a local businessman and Remengesau’s brother-in-law, 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.