JAMAICA Labour Party (JLP) Leader Andrew Michael Holness is expected to be sworn in Tuesday as prime minister following his party’s victory over the People’s National Party (PNP) in Thursday’s general election.
A high-level JLP officer told the Jamaica Observer that Holness, who yesterday met with the governor general and other critical State officials, was awaiting the final results of the election from the Electoral Office of Jamaica (EOJ) before he is sworn in as prime minister and names members of his Cabinet. He was also expected to get a briefing from outgoing Finance Minister Dr Peter Phillips on the proposed bugdet and the state of the International Monetary Fund negotiations.
While unable to give a hint about possible members of the executive, he said the prime minsiter-designate got a mandate and should use the opportunity to utilise the services of some of the newly elected members of the legislature.
The EOJ said final counting for all constituencies across the island commenced yesterday and should be completed by Monday, which would be in time for the swearing-in of the new prime minsiter. Counting, the EOJ said, was taking place in the designated counting centres in each constituency except for five – St Andrew Eastern, St Ann South Western, St Mary South Eastern, and St Catherine North Eastern, which are being counted at its head office on Duke Street, Kingston; and St James Southern, which is being counted at the regional office in Montego Bay.
The director of elections, as allowed under the law, took the decision to provide closer monitoring for the final count in constituencies where the preliminary results were particularly close. Based on the preliminary count, the JLP has won 33 and the PNP 30 of the 63 seats.While the voter turnout was below 50 per cent, Director of Elections Orrette Fisher said he was pleased with the proceedings on election day.
“We worked with the security forces, political party representatives, observers and other stakeholders to address, in a swift manner, reports of incidents which arose. But, in general, we can say the proceedings went smoothly. As always, whenever we have an election we must prepare for a 100 per cent turnout, so it is unfortunate that only 48 per cent of the voting population turned out,” he said.
In the meantime, the Electoral Observation Mission of the Organisation of American States (EOM) yesterday labelled the low voter turnout for country’s 17th General Election as “disquieting”, particularly among the young populace.
The EOM, which was led by the former attorney general and minister of foreign affairs of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, Janet Bostwick, said concerns have been raised about the low voter turnout which has been declining since the 1990s.
Bostwick, in presenting the findings and other recommendations of the general election, noted that this election was not an exception with a continuing trend of only 47.7 per cent turnout, falling below the 2011 voter turnout of 52.6 per cent.
“… Robust participation in a country’s electoral processes is essential to maintain and strengthen the democratic system of government and to identify, encourage and develop the next cadre of political leaders,” she told a press briefing at the Jamaica Pegasus hotel.
The EOM has recommended that the Electoral Commission of Jamaica, the political ombudsman, and other stakeholders redouble their voter education and public awareness campaigns to inform and energise new voters, while encouraging the participation of the general electorate in the national electoral process.
In addition to the low voter turnout, the EOM criticised the electoral authorities for making no provisions for electors who are voting in places other than their designated polling division, including persons in hospitals or nursing homes, citizens on remand or serving terms of imprisonment, and Jamaicans posted or residing overseas.
“The EOM recommends that the electoral authorities consider provisions to facilitate voting by qualified voters, whose names appear on the voters’ list, but who are unable to attend their designated polling division on election day,” she said.
The EOM was composed of 23 international observers from 15 OAS member states and two observer states. The EOM also had specialists in electoral organisation, electoral technology, political financing, gender and political analysis.
On election day, members were present in 13 parishes across the country and visited 367 polling stations.
In the meantime, the Jamaica Manufacturers’ Association (JMA) and American Chamber of Commerce of Jamaica were among the first to congratulate the prime minister-designate and his party for Thursday’s election victory.
The JMA said it was fully committed to working with the new Administration to further stimulate growth and sustainable development.
We wish to also commend all successful candidates who won their bids to provide meaningful representation to all Jamaicans. The future success of Jamaica is heavily dependent on quality representation and good governance, which require both parties working together for the common good.
Congratulations also came yesterday from leader of the main Opposition United Workers’ Party in St Lucia, Alan Chastanet. “The Jamaica Labour Party won the general elections in that country on Thursday because it stuck to its task of offering alternative policies for the management of Jamaica’s affairs,” he said..
Chastanet, who is expected to lead his party into a general election later this year, said he also wanted to wish Holness every success “as he and his newly elected Government work to build Jamaica into a stronger nation on a platform of economic stability, dignity and peace”.
SOURCE: By: mrlindsay