New date announced for Turks and Caicos general election
PROVIDENCIALES, Turks and Caicos Islands (CMC) — Less than a week after Premier Dr Rufus Ewing announced that voters would be choosing a new government in the Turks and Caicos Islands on December 5, the governor of this British Overseas Territory has announced a new date.
Governor Dr John Freeman says the vote will now take place on December 15.
In a radio broadcast, he said that the earlier date would not allow for the electoral officials to prepare for the election.
“Whilst the date of 5 December would be compliant with the constitution in consultation with the premier, it has been decided that it would be most expedient to postpone the date for the election.”
When Premier Ewing announced that the Parliament had been dissolved last Friday paving the way for the election, no date was given for nomination day.
“I am advised that the election day proclamation that was published in the Gazette on Friday announcing the date of the general election was in order by being in accordance with the TCI constitution,” Ewing said in a statement Monday.
“However, there was an issue with the timelines under section 26 of the Election Ordinance and hence the procedures for the appointment of a nomination day and election day could not have been executed in the minimum time frame provided for by the constitution.”
Ewing said there were several options available to him as premier to rectify the situation to permit the supervisor of elections to carry out the procedures required under the Election Ordinance and he exercised the option of recommending to the governor to change the date of the election to a date of his (Ewing’s) choosing.
“The governor having consulted with me on this date will now issue an amendment to that proclamation published on Friday, October 28, 2016,” Ewing said.
“Contrary to the opinion touted by persons from other political camps, the decision to exercise the option to change the date of election was made after much consultation and consideration with the executives and several legal minds of the Progressive National Party who advised and supported my decision to recommend a change to the election date,” Premier Ewing said.
In his broadcast, Freeman said, “I would propose that consideration of whether or not to amend the Elections Ordinance should be on the agenda for Cabinet once the House has been recalled following the election.”
The election is expected to be a straight contest between the Ewing’s Progressive National Party (PNP) the main opposition People’s Democratic Movement (PDM) and a new party, the Progressive Democratic Association (PDA), led by former PDM leader Oswald Skippings.
So far the PNP and PDM have announced their list of 15 candidates, including five who will be running “at large” and will vie for votes from all 10 election districts.
Several independent candidates have also announced plans to contest the poll including former premier Michael Misick who was not endorsed by the PNP, which he once led.
In the last general election in November 2012, the PNP was elected on the heels of an interim government in which the territory was governed by the United Kingdom for three years – the PNP then won eight of the 15 seats in parliament and the PDM won the remaining seven.