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BRADES, Montserrat – Voters in this British Overseas Territory (BOT) are casting ballots to elect persons to a nine-member legislative Assembly with the outgoing Premier, Donaldson Romeo, among nine people contesting the election as independent candidates.
Romeo had led the outgoing People’s Democratic Movement (PDM) to victory in the 2014 general election, but has since been replaced by his Communications, Works, Energy and Labour Minister, Paul Lewis, who is confident of victory, even though the party is fielding seven candidates.
Another independent candidate is the outgoing Speaker of the Assembly, Shirley Osborne, a former PDM member and one of two children of the late premier John Osborne, who are facing the electorate of just under 4 000. The other is David Osborne, who is contesting the election as a PDM candidate.
There are 35 candidates contesting the nine-seats that political observers on the BOT say could result in a coalition government being formed.
The 12 polling stations on this volcano ravaged island opened at 7 a.m. and will close at 6 p.m. Montserrat’s single constituency system means that each voter can cast ballots for nine candidates.
Supervisor of Elections, Claudette Weekes, says all systems are in place to ensure a smooth general election and is urging voters to take a valid photo identification including drivers licence, social security card or passport with them and to vote where they are registered.
The PDM is expected to get a strong challenge from the Movement for Change and Prosperity (MCAP) that had been in power prior to its defeat in the 2014 election. The party is no longer led by Reuben Meade, the former premier who bowed out following the party’s defeat in the general election. MCAP is now led by former agriculture minister Easton Taylor-Farrell.
The other parties in the race are the Montserrat United Labour Party (MULP) led by former MCAP member, Peter Queeley and the Montserrat National Congress (MNC), led by former PDM member, Gregory Willock, are the other parties seeking to control the volcano-ravaged British Overseas Territory for the next five years. (CMC)