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
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,''
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
% 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
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
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.