2004-10-28 / Caribbean Corner

labor party wins st. Kitts-nevis elections

BASSETERRE, St. Kitts-Nevis (AP) – The ruling St Kitts-Nevis Labor party has won seven seats in the federation’s general elections. It’s a third consecutive victory for the party of prime minister, Dr. Denzil Douglas.

The labor party lost only one of the eight seats it held on St Kitts. That seat was won by a candidate of the main opposition People’s Action Movement, PAM.

PAM leader, Lindsay Grant, failed to win a seat.

A third party in the race in St. Kitts was the United National Empowerment Party, led by Henry Browne; it also did not win a seat.

In Nevis the Concerned Citizens Movement of Premier Vance Amory held on to its two seats with the other one retained by the Nevis Reformation Party.

The turn out for the polls was lower than expected. Initial indications suggest that less than 50 percent of the almost 39 000 registered voters took part in the elections.

There was also concern about the length of time it took for the results to be announced. Counting of the ballots started after 8 p.m. on Monday but was not completed until after 5 a.m. on Tuesday.

There was also what our correspondent calls a, “very high number of spoilt ballots”, 46 of them in total. He said the previous highest total of spoilt ballots was 23, in 1979.

Security was tight during the voting after the main parties traded accusations of unfair behavior in the run-up to the poll. The SKNLP said the PAM was trying to intimidate people into not voting, while the PAM said the SKNLP had encouraged illegal voter registrations.

KINGSTON, Jamaica (AP) – Ques-tioning the accuracy of the delegates’ list to be used in the November 6 election, JLP leadership aspirant Pearnel Charles hinted yesterday that he was prepared to go as far as the courts to test the fairness of the register.

“At whatever level is required I would take it,” Charles said in an address at the weekly luncheon of the Rotary Club of St Andrew at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in Kingston.

“The constitution of the Labor Party will be protected - whatever level,” he added.

But apparently seeking to head off such a confrontation a mere fortnight before the vote, the JLP’s general secretary Karl Samuda said the secretariat remained open to complaints, although he said that the list was “the best they (the JLP) have had for many, many, many elections.”

“I wish to make it clear that the secretariat remains open to receive any specific complaints about any aspect of this voters’ list and undertakes to make itself available to resolve any such problems,” Samuda said in a statement.

Charles, a popular minister in the Jamaica Labor Party administration of the 1980s, is contesting the party’s top post against his brother-in-law, the JLP’s chairman Bruce Golding.

The victor will succeed the party’s embattled, long-time leader, Edward Seaga, who is retiring. Golding, the in-tellectual leader of the JLP’s so-called reformist wing, is widely considered to be front-runner.

Approximately 4,600 delegates will be eligible to cast ballots in the election, and although the names were ap-proved by the JLP’s Central Executive - the highest decision-making body apart from a general conference - Charles’ camp believes it is flawed.

There have been complaints among Charles’ supporters, for instance, that more than 1,300 names were removed from an original register and replaced with other names. The implication is that the substitute names - at least 800 of them - were known to be strong supporters of Golding.

The voting is to be administered by the Electoral of Jamaica (EOJ).

But insisting that the list was stacked in favor of Golding, Charles told the Rotarians: “The compilation of the pre-sent voters’ list is not fully accepted by me and my side.

Discussions are taking place and everything will be done to try and settle the matter at any level.”

His team had already raised several objections to names on the register.

It was important, Charles said, for the JLP, as a national political party, seeking leadership of the country, to be fair and transparent in its internal poll.

“We are electing the leader of the party who could be prime minister,” he said. “We cannot be promoting honesty, transparency at other levels and don’t do it in our party. We have some problems which we have to solve.”

Pressed on how far he was prepared to go to secure a delegates’ list which he considered fair when the Central Executive had already given its imprimatur to the existing one, Charles ap-peared to side-step the issue:

“The Central Executive has approved a list put before them by the secretariat,” he said. “The constitution of the Labor Party has a position that has to be protected.”

PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad (AP) _ Business giant Lawrence Duprey said the recent raid on his Maraval home by police will not stop any of his business plans, but it has affected his dealings outside of T&T.

Duprey was talking after the signing of a US$700 million downstream energy project at the Hilton Trinidad, Port-of-Spain.

The raid on his home by members of the Anti-Corruption Bureau came on the eve of the signing.

He will also officially commission an ammonia plant in Point Lisas today.

“Someone is trying to do their work, which includes looking at CL Financial,” Duprey said.

“The police have their work to do. I have my work to do.”

He dismissed reports that the raids were timed to embarrass him.

“I’m a Trinidadian. I’ve said that all around the world,” Duprey said.

“The only impact it’s had on me really is when I go to invest - I invest significant sums in other countries and they want to know what’s happening because it’s on the Internet and 9 o’clock last night, people started ringing me and I explained to them, but this happens all around the world.”

The police raids are part of a probe that includes CL Financial, Caribbean Nitrogen Co and former Prime Min-ister Basdeo Panday.

Clico’s offices and the home of CL executive Carlos John have also been searched.

Duprey yesterday denied that any documents were taken away by the police, and said he was not involved in local running of Clico.

“The perception that I am a participant in the local business and political is very incorrect. I am outside. I can’t get involved. I do not know what really obtains here,” he said. “They can check wherever they want. I don’t provide funds to any politician.”

ST. GEORGE’S, Grenada (AP) – Grenada on Monday commemorated the 21st anniversary of a U.S. invasion of the island during the Cold War but most residents were invariably focused on rebuilding from the rubble left by Hurricane Ivan.

The commemoration came as residents struggle to recover after Ivan tore through Grenada on Sept. 7, kill-ing 39 and damaging or destroying 90 percent of buildings. Many islanders still live in their cars or with relatives or friends.

The former British colony declared Monday a national day of thanksgiving and prayer.

Prime Minister Keith Mitchell was scheduled to address the ceremony. The United States was represented at the event by U.S. Embassy charge d’affaires Wayne Logsdon, but he did not address the gathering of about 2,500 people.

It was in contrast to previous anni-versaries, especially last year when a U.S. Congressional delegation visited and officials laid a wreath to comme-morate U.S. soldiers who died in the 1983 invasion.

CASTRIES, St. Lucia (AP) – St. Lucia’s reigning Calypso monarch Jany Williams was killed in a traffic accident, police said Monday.

Williams, 26, died Sunday, when the vehicle she was driving ran off a pre-cipice near Canaries, a village on the island’s west side.

Her five passengers were hospitalized but their conditions were unknown, police said.

Williams made history when she be-came the first woman to win the Ca-lypso Monarch title in July.

Her death came five days before she was to receive her prize for winning the contest, an EC$60,000 (US$22,472) new vehicle.

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) _ U.N. peacekeepers kept watch in a volatile slum while calm returned to Haiti’s capital a day after peacekeepers and police took over a stronghold of militants loyal to ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

One Haitian police officer and at least five “hoodlums’’ were shot and killed in Sunday’s operation in the Bel Air slum, U.N. mission chief Juan Ga-briel Valdes told a news conference.

Valdes said some arrests also were made as scores of U.N. troops and about 100 police from Benin, Canada, France and Spain, swept through Bel Air on Sunday led by 10 Brazilian armored cars with mounted submachine guns.

Brazilian Defense Minister Jose Viegas, meanwhile, told the newspaper Folha de Sao Paulo that Brazilian troops who are leading the U.N. force should stay in Haiti “at least one year more.’’

The deaths confirmed by Valdes brought to at least 61 the number slain in more than three weeks of sporadic violence in Port-au-Prince.

“I think at that point we will be able to begin some very important efforts, particularly in disarmament,” he said.

Disarmament of Aristide loyalists and of former Haiti soldiers who helped lead the bloody rebellion has been a troublesome issue for the foreign troops now providing security in some parts of the country.

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