News Americas, CHARLESTOWN, Nevis, Mon. Feb. 16, 2015: Voters in the Federation of St. Kitts/Nevis and from the Diaspora will go to the polls today to elect a new government but as the curtains came down on campaigning last night, political parties here turned to Jamaican singers to perhaps create buzz and help win the hearts of swing voters.
The election is historic in nature as the country’s incumbent Dr. Denzil Douglas is trying to increase his rule to 25 years even as for the first time he faces a challenge from all three opposition parties who have formed a coalition to try to oust him.
With Kittians and Nevisians being flown in from the U.S., Canada and across the Caribbean by all sides – some on private jets – to increase the voter tally at the ballot box today, the numbers in Charlestown swelled dramatically last night as the ruling Nevis-island party, the Concerned Citizens Movement (CCM), held its final rally.
Jamaican singer, Duane Stephenson of ‘Little Cottage in Negril’ fame, was brought in by the CCM to add some spice as thousands of members and supporters from across the island – including Brick Kiln, Cotton Ground, Gingerland, Panko, Bath Village and Jessups – took to the streets of Charlestown. He treated fans to the popular song as well as ‘Rastafari’ and some inspirational covers including Bob Marley’s famed ‘Redemption Song.’ His appearance came after all three candidates in Nevis contesting the federal elections in St. Kitts led rally goers in singing ‘We Shall Overcome.’
The CCM, led by Nevis Island premier, Vance Armory, told rally goers last night it only received a final list from the electoral commission in St. Kitts at 2 p.m. yesterday for today’s elections.
Armory is contesting the federal election in Nevis to retain his seat in constituency number 10 while his deputy, the fiery politician Mark Brantley, who has earned the nickname ‘The Sheriff,’ is contesting the election to retain his seat in number 9.
Nevis Island Administration minister, Alexis Jeffers, a former U.S. citizen, is running for a federal seat for the first time against St. Kitts Labor minister, Nevisian Patrice Nisbett in number 11. Jeffers brought a huge blue hammer to the rally last night, the party symbol, and vowed to send the final nail in the coffin on labor with his ‘hammer’ at the polls today.
The CCM is part of the coalition Team Unity, which also includes the Peoples Labor Party led by former St. Kitts minister, Dr. Timothy Harris and the Peoples Action Movement, led by Shawn Richards.
The three parties say they have come together to save the country from the “brink of dictatorship,’ which they say is occurring under the current administration of Dr. Douglas of the St. Kitts Labor Party.
Douglas for his part says his economic record of progress speaks for itself and he is confident voters will choose him for another five-year term. He has already served 20 years as the country’s prime minister.
The St. Kitts Labor Party, branding itself on promotional items as SKN, has already used several Jamaican artists since the campaign began in earnest last month after the dissolution of the country’s parliament on January 16th.
Their first major concert in Basseterre featured Jah Cure on Jan. 24thand on Thursday night, February 12th, PM Douglas, who the party refers to as the ‘Comrade Leader’ and the ‘SKN Boss,’ presented Jamaican dancehall star, Cecile and the Nu Vybes band in a concert in Charleston, Nevis.
On Saturday night, the party presented a mea Valentine’s show at Port Zante featuring Antony B, Ce’Cile, Cocoa T, Aidonia and the Nu Vybes Band.
And last night, SKN pulled out the stops, presenting reggae icon, Beres Hammond at the final rally, proving rumors of an appearance by Bajan pop star, Rihanna to be false.
Emergency workers voted early on Saturday ahead of the election even as the opposition decried that many of their registered supporters were not on the voters’ list issued to them by the Elections Commission. The Commission has had to issue new voters’ list based on old electoral boundaries across the island following a Privy Council ruling last Thursday that agreed with the opposition.
The opposition had argued that a proclamation changing the country’s electoral boundaries that passed the House with government support and was hastily signed by the country’s governor general and gazetted should not stand.
Today, from 7 a.m., voters will cast their ballots at 123 polling stations until 6 p.m. Ninety of them will be in St. Kitts and 33 in Nevis.
Observers from the Organization of American States, CARICOM and the Commonwealth will be observing the elections today after meeting with both sides on Friday, Feb. 13th.
The counting of the ballots is expected to commence at 8:00 PM this evening and results expected to be carried live on local radio and television.