Election day in Guyana & St. Lucia
GEORGETOWN/CASTRIES, CMC – Voters in Guyana and St. Lucia were casting ballots Monday to elect new governments.
In Guyana, the incumbent People’s Progressive Party/ Civic ( PPP/ C) is seeking to extend its 19 year hold on power, but faces a strong challenge from the opposition grouping, A Partnership for National Unity ( APNU), which includes the main opposition People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR); the Alliance For Change ( AFC), The United Force ( TUF) and the East Berbice Development Association, which is only contesting the regional elections in Region Six.
The Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) said it is prepared for the poll since 2006.
“We have been working since then to ensure that we learn from our mistakes and strengthen our weakness,” GECOM chairman Dr. Steve Surujbally told local, regional, and international media and observer groups on Sunday.
Law enforcement officials say security has been beefed up for the poll in which 475, 496 voters will elect members for the 65-member National Assembly.
In St Lucia, the ruling United Workers Party (UWP) is facing a challenge from three other political parties, but political observers say the poll is a straight fight between the UWP and the main opposition St. Lucia Labour Party (SLP) for control of the 17-seat Parliament.
Heavy rains over the weekend have hampered the last few hours of campaigning but as early as 5.40 am (local time) long lines were forming outside polling stations with some voters eager to cast their ballots early.
Chief Elections Officer Carson Raggie told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) that voting would take place during the period 6.30 am to 6.00 pm (local time) and that 151, 734 people are eligible to cast ballots at the 475 polling stations across the country.
“We are ready for the elections,” he said, adding “ we anticipate the usual small problems of some people not finding their names on the list in areas where they believe they should be voting”.
In the last general election, the voter turnout was 58.46 per cent and Raggie believes it could be higher this time around.
There are 52 candidates in the election race.