Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Atg: Election news

Speakers atop campaign trucks blared the slogan ''Vote them out!'' to a calypso beat Monday ahead of a general election marked by charges of corruption that could oust the 28-year Bird family dynasty in Antigua and Barbuda.

Prime Minister Lester Bird's supporters accuse the opposition of resorting to smear tactics and offering few concrete proposals.

The governing Antigua Labor Party headed into today's parliamentary elections with nine of 17 seats in the House of Representatives, seeking a seventh straight term. Polls predicted it could be the party's first loss since 1976.

The opposition pledged greater unemployment benefits and support for school uniforms and lunches. Bird, meanwhile, promised to cut corporate tax from 40 percent to 25 percent and give tax credits to hotels and manufacturers.
Also this:
Political tension was high yesterday in St John's, capital of Antigua and Barbuda, as campaigning for tomorrow's general election was drawing to a close amid increased security operations and bitter personal verbal salvos.

On Saturday evening the police had to rush to the Government Complex Housing, the Office of Prime Minister Lester Bird, when supporters of the opposition United Progressive Party of Baldwin Spencer, estimated varyingly between 200 and 500, stormed the building to prevent, they say, documents and other materials being removed by officials in boxes..

And yesterday, he instructed his lawyers to take "immediate legal against" the privately-owned and opposition-backed "Observer Radio", for what he described as "scurrilous personal slander" against him, Prime Minister Bird.
Jamaica's director of elections, Danville Walker, has given the Antigua and Barbuda's election machinery a passing grade even before it is tested in the general polls today.

The Antigua and Barbuda Electoral, which is managing its first polls, had contracted the EOJ as a consultant. Members of staff at the EOJ also trained Antiguan officials, and will assist with today's proceedings.

"The systems you have in place here in Antigua, I can say without any fear of contradiction, is easily one of the more advanced and one of the most modern in the world. I've no doubt about it," Walker said.
Let's see how it all shakes out. Bird is convinced that he'll be the next PM, and he's anticipating being the next Chair of Caricom.


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