Published On: Tue, Jan 22nd, 2013

Nevis goes to the polls

CHARLESTOWN, Nevis – Voters in Nevis go to the polls on Tuesday in early general elections, just 18 months after the last Nevis Island Assembly (NIA) elections in July 2011.

The need for new elections in Nevis comes in the wake of the OECS Court of Appeal ruling on August 27, 2012, which upheld an earlier decision by the High Court that had declared the results of the July 11, 2011, elections in the St John’s seat null and void.

Former deputy premier and social affairs minister, Hensley Daniel of the incumbent Nevis Reformation Party (NRP), had successfully defended the St John’s seat, which he first won in the 2006 Nevis Island Assembly elections. Daniel beat challenger Mark Brantley of the Concerned Citizens' Movement (CCM) by 14 votes.

The effect of the court ruling was that the NRP and the CCM each then had equal seats (two each and one vacant) and, in October, Nevis Premier Joseph Parry announced that there would be a general election and not simply a by-election in the disputed constituency

“Let’s not believe that we are having a by-election. It is not going to happen. No by-election is going to take place in this country. It is going to be a general election,” he said at the time.

“A general election is an election that determines the direction of the country. No one seat can determine that. It is too important. The issue of who runs the country, who gives direction to the country, who carries the ball further, cannot be decided by a by-election,” Parry added.

He said that the direction Nevis has to take must be determined by all the persons on Nevis who have a right to vote, so that they get an opportunity to make a determination, or to be part of that determination of the direction of the country.

With each party fielding a full slate of candidates, both the CCM, led by former premier Vance Amory, and the NRP, led by Parry, have expressed confidence in victory at the polls.

On Monday, a four-member Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Electoral Observer Mission (CEOM), under the leadership of chief of mission, Pauline Welsh, director of legal affairs, development and research, Electoral Office of Jamaica, arrived to observe the conduct of the polls.

The other members of the delegation are Ambassador Rudolph Collins, former chairman of the Guyana Electoral Commission; Grace-Anne Crichlow, former deputy chief of the OAS Special Mission to Strengthen Democracy in Haiti; and Sandiria Hall, project officer, foreign and community relations, CARICOM Secretariat.

The CEOM was expected to meet with the members of the Electoral Office of St Kitts and Nevis and other chief stakeholders of the electoral and political process, including the major political parties.

Members of the observer mission will be deployed to observe the conduct of the election in all five constituencies and will endeavour to visit as many polling stations as possible. The mission will also observe the vote counting and tabulation processes and will issue a preliminary statement of its findings prior to its departure on January 24, 2013.

By Caribbean News Now contributor

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