Basseterre, St. Kitts (CUOPM) – The Federation’s Acting Supervisor of Elections, Mr. Wingrove George is among an 11-member team from the Caribbean Community (Caricom) that will observe Thursday’s general election in Antigua and Barbuda.
The Caricom Electoral Observer Mission is led by Jamaica’s Director of Elections Orrette Fisher, and also includes Ian Browne, deputy chief elections officer of Barbados; Barrette Woodye of the Belize Elections and Boundaries Department; former Dominica government minister Henry George; Chester Humphrey, trade unionist and former senator in the Grenada Parliament; and Lena Champa Sahadeo, deputy chief elections officer of Trinidad and Tobago.
Apart from the Caricom team, the election here is also being monitored by a team from the Commonwealth Secretariat and the Organisation of American States.
The ruling United Progressive Party (UPP) is seeking a third consecutive term in office, but faces a strong challenge from the main Opposition Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party (ABLP).
In the 2009 general elections, the UPP won nine of the 17 seats with the ABLP winning seven. The other seat was won by the Barbuda People’s Movement.
The 164 polling stations opened at 6:00 am (local time) and will close 12 hours later. Electoral officials said that 47, 721 people are eligible to cast ballots for candidates representing six political parties although the race is seen as a straight fight between ruling United Progressive Party (UPP) and the main opposition Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party (ALP).
Prime Minister Baldwin Dr. the Hon. Baldwin Spencer is seeking a third consecutive term in office, but the ALP under the new leadership of businessman Gaston Browne is seeking to reverse its fortunes after having been swept out of power in 2004.
There were long lines at some of the polling stations in the capital and the two parties expect that the turn out will be high.
The Antigua and Barbuda Electoral Commission (ABEC) said it is “fully prepared” for the polls in which the parties are vying for control of the 17-seat parliament.
ABEC public relations officer, Anne Harewood-George said that a new feature of the election is the establishment of information centres.