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General election set for February

Published:Thursday | January 7, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Anguilla (CMC):

Voters in this British Overseas Territory will go to the polls on February 15 to elect a new government.

Retiring Chief Minister Osbourne Fleming announced the date for the general election during a public meeting of the ruling Anguilla United Front (AUF) party in the village of Blowing Point, south of here on Tuesday night.

"Tonight, I take great pleasure in advising you that by the help of God, because we don't know what could happen, elections in Anguilla will be on the 15th of February 2010," Fleming told cheering supporters and party officials on Tuesday night.

During the final sitting of the Anguilla House of Assembly on Monday, the leader of government business said that he had discussions with Governor Alistair Harrison about the dissolution of parliament yesterday, paving the way for general elections here.

Speculation had been rife in recent weeks about a possible date for the election that was constitutionally due in March but could have been held as late as April or May 2010.

Fleming and two other senior members of the AUF - Communications and Works Minister Kenneth Harrigan and Parliamentary Secretary Albert Hughes - announced last year that they would not be contesting the next general election and would be stepping down from active politics.

The trio collectively had given almost 80 years of public service to the Anguillan community.

Finance Minister Victor Banks has replaced Fleming as leader of the incumbent AUF Party.

Shortly before Parliament ended on Monday, Fleming told legislators he felt confident that his government's five-year contract with the people had been fulfilled.

"The people elected us for five years and five years it would be, that was my commitment that was my pledge," Fleming said.

Two other political parties - the Anguilla United Movement (AUM) headed by veteran politician and former chief minister Hubert Hughes and the Anguilla Progressive Party led by businessman Brent Davis and at least four independent candidates have indicated that they will be contesting the elections.

In the 2005 general election, the AUF won five of the seven parliamentary seats; with the other two seats taken by Hughes and Edison Baird, who has been representing the Road North constituency for the last 15 years.