Commonwealth observer group ready for Antigua-Barbuda election

Commonwealth observer group ready for Antigua-Barbuda election
Janet Bostwick.

ST JOHN’S, Antigua — The chair of the Commonwealth Observer Group, currently in Antigua and Barbuda ahead of Wednesday’s general election, has spoken of her hope for democracy.

Janet Bostwick, former foreign minister and attorney-general of The Bahamas, said: “On behalf of the group, I wish the people of Antigua and Barbuda well as they go out to exercise their franchise. We will assess whether the elections have been conducted according to the national laws of Antigua and Barbuda, and to the relevant regional, Commonwealth and other international standards to which Antigua and Barbuda has committed itself.”

The group arrived in the country on March 16 and has met with the prime minister, the electoral commission, representatives of political parties, civil society representatives, media organisations and domestic and international observer groups.

Bostwick continued: “For the remainder of the time before polling commences we will observe campaigning and continue to meet a range of relevant stakeholders to the election process.”

On election day, the group will observe at different polling stations and constituencies across Antigua, including the polling for Barbudans. They will observe the opening of the polling stations, the casting of votes, the count and the declaration of results, as well as liaising with observers from the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and Organization of American States (OAS).

Last month Prime Minister Gaston Browne announced that Antigua and Barbuda would hold a general election on 21 March, more than a year before elections were constitutionally due.

The Commonwealth has a long history of observing elections in Antigua and Barbuda. It has been present at the last five elections.

These elections will contest the 17 seats in the lower chamber of Antigua and Barbuda’s bicameral parliament. At dissolution, a majority of 14 seats was held by Browne’s Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party (ABLP) with the remaining three seats held by the United Progressive Party (UPP).