Koror-- Raynold Oilouch and Surangel Whipps Jr., who are emerging as the top two vote-getters in Tuesday's primary election, will face off in the Nov. 3 presidential election.
Oilouch is Palau's sitting vice president while Whipps is a businessman and former senator, whose served from 2006 to 2016. He ran against President Tommy Remengesau in the 2016 presidential election.
Nearly 8,000 voters cast their votes in the primary election.
Obtaining 3,546 votes, Whipps Jr. leads the pack in the four-way race, followed by Oilouch, who garnered 1,984 votes. They edged out the two other presidential hopefuls, Alan Seid and Johnson Toribiong.
Toribiong garnered 1,145 votes and Seid tailed with 983 votes, according to the unofficial results from the Commission.
Although absentee votes are still scheduled to be counted on Sept. 29, the lead margins of the top two candidates were enough for Seid and Toribiong to concede.
Whipps won in all hamlets in Koror and Airai, also leading in all states.
The winner in next month's general election will succeed Remengesau, who is capping his second term this year.The president of Palau serves a four-year term, with a two-term limit.
The voter turnout for the primary though was only at 30 percent of the total registered voters of 25,281. The turnout is expected to increase after the absentee ballots are tabulated next week.
According to the Surangel for President Facebook page 1,025 absentee ballots have been received by the Election Commission out of the nearly 2,000 ballots sent out.
The official result is expected to be certified at the end of next week.
Posting a message on his Facebook page, Oilouch thanked the people who voted in the primary election.
Whipps in an interview thanked the people for participating in the democratic process.
He also thanked the three other candidates for the fair and good election and for informing well the public on the various issues.
Seid for his part , thanked the people who supported him in the race to the presidency.
“The results are clear so I want to concede and congratulate Surangel Whipps, Jr. and VP Arnold Oilouch who are the clear winners of the primary. Good luck to both of them,” Seid said.
Toribiong also congratulated Whipps and Oilouch for making it to the general election.
“I extend to all the people of Palau, at home and abroad, my appreciation to you for freely exercising your right to vote to choose our next President to lead our nation in the next four years. I offer my congratulations to Surangel Whipps, Jr. and Reynold Oilouch for winning the right to run for president in the general election on Nov. 3, 2020,” he said in a statement.
Whipps is pitching for tax reform, improving the educational system and a government that invests on its people.
Oilouch meanwhile wants better housing for Palauans and to provide Palau with stability as he said he is a hand on reality of how government operations work.
Whipps' supporters see him as driving change in Palau while Oilouch supporters took account of his position as an incumbent which will maintain stability in the government, especially during the pandemic.