Grenadians go to the polls

By Caribbean News Now contributor

ST GEORGE’S, Grenada — Voters in Grenada go to the polls on Tuesday in a general election that is widely expected to be won by the opposition New National Party (NNP) led by former prime minister, Dr Keith Mitchell, although the likely margin is uncertain.

The latest findings of a tracking survey conducted in Grenada by the North American Caribbean Teachers Association (NACTA) show that the NNP holds a slight lead over the incumbent National Democratic Congress (NDC) led by Prime Minister Tillman Thomas.

Other polls predict a complete sweep for the NNP in the 15-seat parliament. However, conventional wisdom is that the election is much closer.

Overall, the NACTA poll has nine out of the 15 seats within its margin of error, with several seats being very competitive but with the opposition having the edge to capture them from the NDC.

The NACTA poll does not rule out an opposition sweep but the findings show such an outcome as highly unlikely and it will take a huge swing of the undecided voters to produce such an outcome.

Meanwhile, a seven-member CARICOM electoral observer mission (CEOM), under the leadership of chief of mission, Dr Jennifer Van Dijk-Silos, chairperson of the Independent Electoral Council of Suriname, has arrived in Grenada to observe the conduct of the poll.

The main functions of the mission are to observe the final preparations for the elections, hold discussions with stakeholders, government, opposition, the electoral officials and civil society. The mission will also observe the electoral process, including the conduct of the poll and counting of the ballots. An assessment of the outcome of the elections and the impact on the political environment will be included in the report, which will be submitted to the secretary-general of CARICOM.

The chief of mission arrived on February 12 and has met with Prime Minister Thomas, the leader of the opposition, the commissioner of police, the leader of the National United Front (NUF), the leader of the Grenada United Patriotic Movement (GUPM), the leader of the NDC, Trade Union Council, GNOW, Council of the Disabled, the Council of Churches of Grenada and the Supervisor of Elections.

The Chief of Mission was expected to meet with civil society on Monday.

These discussions provided the mission with a good understanding of the reform process concerning the voters list, and issues and concerns raised regarding the preparations and conduct of the elections.

The chief of mission said she is satisfied with the extensive consultations and discussions held with stakeholders concerning the parliamentary elections. Based on this and the witnessing of the conduct of the polls, the mission will be able to make an objective assessment of the elections. A preliminary statement will then be issued based on the findings and observations of the mission.

Other members of the electoral observer mission arrived on February 15 and will be deployed to observe the conduct of the elections in fourteen 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 February 21, 2013.

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