Tue | Oct 20, 2020

EU ambassador gives vote of confidence to election

Published:Friday | September 4, 2020 | 7:30 AMNadine Wilson-Harris/Staff Reporter
Ambassador Malgorzata Wasilewska, head of the Delegation of the European Union to Jamaica leaves the polling station in Stony Hill, Western St Andrew after conducting a brief observation of the voting procedure.
Ambassador Malgorzata Wasilewska, head of the Delegation of the European Union to Jamaica leaves the polling station in Stony Hill, St Andrew Western, after conducting a brief observation of the voting procedure.

Malgorzata Wasilewska, outgoing head of the European Union (EU) delegation to Jamaica, has generally praised the conduct of Jamaica’s 18th general election, despite concerns about long waits for some to cast their vote.

Wasilewska commended election day workers on Thursday for issuing clear instructions, exercising patience, and treating electors with respect of her observation of voting in several polling stations across three constituencies.

“Having a democratically elected government, for us, is key because that is key in any assistance that we give to the country,” Wasilewska said.

The EU ambassador was slated to complete her stint in Jamaica at the end of August, but her term has been extended by two weeks so she could observe the general election. The EU is Jamaica’s largest donor of grant funding.

Wasilewska said that she has supervised election missions across the world and has observed at least two by-elections locally.

“Of course, it is a very challenging moment, with rising cases of COVID. We are very interested to see how elections are conducted and how people participate,” she told The Gleaner.

The ambassador said most persons adhered to social-distancing protocols and also wore face masks – commonplace requirements in the COVID-19 era.

Long lines

Anecdotal accounts from voters identified long lines in the morning as the only complaint.

The EU team first visited the Constant Spring Golf Club, which opened on time to facilitate voters. They then went to the Stony Hill Technical High School in St Andrew West Rural, where Wasilewska observed a blind senior citizen casting her vote. She was especially pleased that provisions had been made for the elderly, disabled, and pregnant.

The team had already visited six polling stations in St Andrew West Rural and St Mary South East when The Gleaner spoke to the ambassador. Wasilewska said that the plan was to observe some more polling divisions in St Andrew Eastern and then head to the counting centre at the Electoral Office of Jamaica’s head office in downtown Kingston.

“I have no doubt that whoever wins will be a democratically elected government,” Wasilewska said.

nadine.wilson@gleanerjm.com