Voters in the twin-island federation of St. Kitts and Nevis in the Eastern Caribbean sub grouping face the polls for a new government on Friday, June 5 in the latest of six general elections to be held in the 15-nation bloc this year and the third organized in the region in as many months.
But as Prime Minister v’ Team Unity squares off against the St. Kitts and Nevis Labor Party of former Prime Minister Denzil Douglas, official results of two other elections held in the grouping are yet to be declared.
In Guyana where nearly just over 400,000 voters went to the polls on March 2, a recount of more than 2,300 ballot boxes is expected to be completed by next week but the entire exercise has been marred by allegations from the incumbent coalition government about hundreds of dead and migrated people being able to cast votes for the main opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP).
It is unclear what the seven-person elections commission (Gecom) will do as the coalition sends multiple envelopes with what it refers to as evidence to prove its case to the commission to help it come to a conclusion as to whether to declare for one party or another or pronounce the process as not credible.
In neighboring Suriname, the other mainland South American nation that is part of the regional family fold, the administration of President Desi Bouterse has asked for a recount in the main Paramaribo District, alleging irregularities and fraudulent activities might have robbed the National Democratic Party (NDP) of a third term and of two more seats to bring its tally to 18 of the 51 in parliament. It had 26 in the previous configuration and all but seems certain to head to opposition benches with nearly all of the votes counted.
In Trinidad, which last organized elections in September of 2015, Prime Minister Keith Rowley announced this week that parliament would be dissolved next month paving the way for new polls in 90 days. This is the clearest indication yet that the fourth general elections in the bloc this year is near. Belize and St. Vincent are the remaining two in the regional family in addition to non bloc member, The Dominican Republic, also this year.
As observers from the Community monitor the political happenings in the two largest member nations, PM Harris in St. Kitts thinks his administration has done enough to win a second term and deny Douglas and his outfit a return to power after just one five-year term out in the cold. The SKNLP had previously run the federation for nearly 30 years.
A total of 48,000 eligible voters are on the electoral scroll in the larger St. Kitts while 12,176 are listed as eligible in tiny Nevis. They will vote at a mere 129 polling stations.
Harris’s Team Unity coalition holds seven of the 11 seats in the assembly but like in Suriname which held its elections on May 25 in the midst of the covid-19 pandemic, traditional methods of campaigning have been somewhat affected by lockdown and curfew restrictions. Suriname whose government had lifted most restrictions for two days around May 25 to facilitate voting and domestic travel for the elections has been forced to re-impose most of the protocols after a major spike in infections in recent days.
An indication as to the importance of managing elections in the height of the pandemic, Elections Supervisor Elvin Bailey said voters will be education as to how to prevent infection in crowded situations, noting that “voters will be required to briefly unmask so that their identity can be checked. Also, a cleansing solution will be provided for voters prior to the immersion in the indelible ink. We are urging voters to comply so that the voting process can flow smoothly and expeditiously,” he said. End/bw