l ST GEORGE'S
Grenadians were voting yesterday 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 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 Keith Mitchell's NNP and three other small political parties including the National United Front (NUF), comprising mainly 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 expected the results of the first seat to be declared to be known half-hour after the polls closed yesterday at 5 p.m.
The election is being monitored by various national regional and international teams including the Caribbean Community (Caricom), the Organisation of American States (OAS) and the Commonwealth.
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.
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 per cent of the popular votes as compared with 47.68 per cent for the NNP. Electoral officials said that the turnout then was 79 per cent and they expect the figure to be lower this time round. –CMC