Published On: Fri, Nov 9th, 2012

Turks and Caicos heads to the polls on Friday

PROVIDENCIALES, Turks and Caicos Islands – After more than three years since elected ministerial government was suspended in the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) by Britain following allegations of widespread government corruption, general elections will be held in the territory on Friday.

The election is being contested by 37 candidates, drawn from three political parties and two independents.

There are 19 seats in the TCI House of Assembly, with 15 being directly elected and the other four appointed by the governor, of which two are nominated by the premier and the leader of the opposition respectively. Ten of the seats are elected in single member constituencies and five seats are “at large”.

A team of independent election observers from the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association British Islands & Mediterranean Region (CPA BIMR), which arrived on Tuesday, will be monitoring the election process. The team is expected to present its report to the governor before departure on Sunday.

The observer team was selected, in coordination with the Association of Caribbean Electoral Organisations (ACEO), and includes Members from the UK Parliament and the Parliament of Gibraltar, together with observers from BVI, Guyana, Jamaica and St Lucia.

“This week marks the start of a much heralded and long anticipated new chapter in the history of the Turks and Caicos Islands,” said Governor Ric Todd. “I am very much looking forward to the elections on Friday and appointing both the new premier and the leader of the opposition early next week, dependent, of course, on the electoral arithmetic from Friday’s poll.

Todd added that the TCI that the territory endured a ‘perfect storm’ in 2008/9 of the breakdown of good governance, the consequences of the global financial crisis and Hurricane Ike.

Even as the economy grew strongly in the boom years, the territory had increased its debt; investors turned away; and there was an increasing absence of confidence in the institutions of the TCI. The allegations of criminal activity related to this period are being dealt with through the territory’s courts.

“Growth returned in 2010, has continued at 4.3% in 2011 and will carry on again this year; helped not least by the series of significant investments which have been announced in the past months,” Todd said.

Oswald Skippings, leader of the Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM) appealed to the TCI people “to rise to the occasion, embrace this God given opportunity to rid ourselves of the albatross around our necks and the corrupt element of government, elect a government that is able to demand the attention, respect and cooperation of the British and transform this country by taking it in the right direction.”

TCI election background:

  • TCI has a population of 31,458. Of these there are 7,377 verified Islanders with some 7,243 registered voters.
  • There are 19 seats in the TCI House of Assembly
  • 15 of these are filled by directly elected candidates
  • One additional members is nominated by the Premier and appointed by The Governor
  • One additional members is nominated by the Leader of the Official Opposition and appointed by The Governor
  • Two members from TCI Civic Society are appointed directly by The Governor
  • The 15 directly elected members are voted for on two simultaneous issued ballot papers
  • The first is for 10 Electoral Districts (think constituencies). This is a white ballot paper. Each voter votes for one candidate.
  • The second is for five All Island Districts (these are voted for on the second ballot papers in and votes are combined from across the country – effectively ‘first five past the post’). This is a green ballot paper. Each voter can vote for up to five preferred candidates.
  • The election is being contested by 37 candidates, drawn from three political parties and two independents.
  • People’s Democratic Movement (PDM): fielding 10 Electoral District candidates and five All Island candidates
  • Progressive National Party (PNP): fielding 10 Electoral District candidates and five All Island candidates
  • People’s Progressive Party (PPP) fielding five Electoral district candidates only
  • One independent candidate standing in one Electoral District
  • One independent candidate standing in the All Island list

In the meantime, arrangements are being finalised for the swearing in of the elected members of the House of Assembly as well as for the Ceremonial Opening of the Assembly next week.

Proposed dates are:

  • Wednesday, Nov 14 – Swearing-in of Ministers
  • Monday, Nov 19 -- Ceremonial Opening and the 1st sitting of the House

By Caribbean News Now contributor

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