ST GEORGE’S, Grenada, CMC – Grenadians were voting Tuesday to elect a new government after a six week campaign in which both the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the main opposition New National Party (NNP) told voters they were best suited to deal with the socio-economic problems of the Spice Isle.
Long lines formed outside some of the 239 polling stations scattered across the island that opened at 6 a.m. (local time) and will close 11 hours later. There are 45 candidates contesting the elections.
Supervisor of Elections Judy Benoit told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) that 62,146 people have been registered to vote in the election in which Prime Minister Tillman Thomas is hoping to lead his NDC into a second consecutive five year term in office against the Keith Mitchell’s NNP and three other small political parties including the National United Front (NUF), comprising mainly of former NDC cabinet ministers.
“The biggest challenge could be someone turning up to vote without identification cards and not being able to be identified otherwise,” she told CMC, adding that she expects the results of the first seat to be declared to be known half an hour after the polls close.
The election is being monitored by various national regional and international teams including the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), the Organization of American States (OAS) and the Commonwealth.
REGIONAL LEGAL TEAM
The NNP said it has already engaged the services of former Trinidad and Tobago attorney general Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj, who is heading an experienced regional legal team, including local attorneys, that will provide legal oversight to the party during the election.
“The strength and extent of this legal presence reflects the New National Party’s commitment to ensuring every possible measure is put in place to uphold the democratic rights of every eligible citizen in Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique for free and fair elections.
“There will be strong legal support in each and every constituency. This formidable legal team will be available to the field agents deployed in each polling division on Election Day to ensure that the integrity of the voting process is preserved,” the NNP said.
Both Prime Minister Thomas and Mitchell made last minute pleas to voters in radio and television broadcast on Monday night.
In the 2008 general election that the NDC won by an 11-4 margin, the party polled 50.85 of the popular votes as compared with 47.68 for the NNP. Electoral officials said that the turn-out then was 79 per cent and they expect the figure to be lower this time round.