BASSETERRE, St. Kitts, Monday February 16, 2015, CMC – Voters in this twin island Federation are casting ballots to elect a new government with Prime Minister Dr. Denzil Douglas urging them to ensure that his 20-year-old administration is returned to power for another five year-term.
Douglas, 62, is seeking to become the first head of government in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) to win five consecutive elections and leads his St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party (SKNLP) into a tough battle against a combined opposition group, Team Unity that is equally confident of denying him the opportunity of re-writing the history books of the country.
The SKNLP, which entered into a cooperation agreement with the Nevis Reformation Party (NRP) for the 11 seats being contested in Monday’s general election, is facing the opposition group that consists of the main opposition People’s Action Movement (PAM), the recently formed People’s Labour Party (PLP) that includes two former senior ministers in Douglas’ cabinet and the Concerned Citizens Movement (CCM).
There are 22 candidates in the race.
There are 133 polling stations scattered across the two-island nation but it is uncertain the number of voters eligible to cast ballots in the elections since the Electoral Commission had not, by at least 24 hours before, released the official voters list.
However there are expected to be over 30,000 people who could vote based on the previous electoral lost.
It has been difficult to obtain information from the Supervisor of Elections, Wingrove George. The polls here are being monitored by teams from the Commonwealth, the Organization of American States (OAS) and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).
Last week, the London-based Privy Council, the island’s final court, ruled that the elections should be fought on the old electoral list as well as the existing boundaries after opposition legislators were successful in getting it to reverse earlier court rulings that the procedures undertaken to ensure that the voting takes places on new boundaries and electoral lost had been followed.
Both major parties cancelled planned motorcades ahead of Monday’s poll over the last weekend, but on Sunday held public rallies in the capital in a last minute bid to bring undecided voters into their respective camps.
Team Unity campaigning under the theme “Better Days are coming” urged its “family” of voters to ensure that they remove the incumbent from office.
Former prime minister Dr. Kennedy Simmonds was on stage to greet the opposition candidates as speaker after speaker said they were convinced of an outright victory on Monday.
For its part, the SKNLP urged voters to continue with the socio-economic development the twin island Federation has enjoyed under Douglas, labelled the “Boss”.
The 11 candidates were also confident of victory.
The polling stations opened at 7.00 am and will close at 6.00 pm (local time). Counting of the ballots is expected to begin two hours later.