USA Today
January 19, 1999

 Joan Purcell of the New Democratic Party
Mitchell salutes after voting 

Ruling party sweeping Grenada elections

                   By Bert Wilkinson, The Associated Press

                   ST. GEORGE'S, Grenada - Prime Minister Keith Mitchell's party stormed
                   toward re-election to Parliament Monday, with voters apparently shrugging
                   off charges of corruption leveled at his administration.

                   The New National Party won in five districts where vote counting was
                   complete, and election officials said preliminary tallies showed that the
                   party would win the remaining 10 districts.

                   ''It looks like 15-nil,'' Mitchell said before leaving party headquarters to
                   join a massive celebration in the streets of his home district.

                   If projections of a sweep over three opposition groups hold, Mitchell's
                   party would dominate a Parliament where it had held a narrow 8-7

                   ''I honestly believe it's a turning point in the history of Grenada,'' Mitchell
                   said. ''People are tired of the old-style politics of vicious attacks on person
                   and family and they are ready to take the country into a new era.''

                   Opposition party officials admitted defeat. Robert Grant of the New
                   Democratic Party said the six weeks between Mitchell's call for elections
                   and the vote was not enough time for the opposition.

                   ''By our standards, this was a snap election,'' said Grant. ''We were caught
                   with our pants down.''

                   Mitchell was forced to call elections 18 months early after he lost his
                   narrow majority in Parliament when two of his ministers defected to the
                   opposition over corruption allegations.

                   In districts where vote counting was finished, the ruling party received 54
                   % in the closest race and 89 % in a landslide in Mitchell's own district in
                   the capital, St. George's. Partial results gave Mitchell's party convincing
                   leads in the other districts. Final results were expected Tuesday.

                   During three years in power, Mitchell has stimulated economic growth and
                   attracted investment to Grenada, a cluster of three islands with 92,000
                   people in the southern Caribbean. However, the opposition says his
                   administration has been riddled with corruption.

                   His former Foreign Minister Raphael Fletcher led the Labor Party against
                   him, while Joan Purcell led the New Democratic Party.

                   Both Fletcher and Purcell accused Mitchell of irregularities in awarding
                   contracts for public works projects and complained that he favored foreign
                   investors with checkered pasts.

                   Grenada Today newspaper has called Mitchell's administration ''the most
                   corrupt government to hold the reigns of power in Grenada since the return
                   of democratic government in 1984.'' In 1983, a coup was ended by a
                   U.S.-led invasion.

                   Voters seemed unaffected by the allegations.

                   ''If the prime minister was no good I would not be voting for him,'' said
                   90-year-old Allian Jones as he cast his vote Monday afternoon.

                   Preliminary figures showed about 60 % of the registered voters went to the
                   polls, which was lower than in the previous general election.

                   In 1983, U.S. and regional troops invaded Grenada after a Cuba-aligned
                   government was overthrown and its leaders executed by an even more
                   hard-line Marxist faction.

                            © Copyright 1999 USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Co. Inc.