CARICOM Secretariat, Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown, Guyana - Tuesday, 10 January 2023: The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) has responded to the invitation extended by the Government of Antigua and Barbuda to mount a CARICOM Election Observation Mission (CEOM) to observe the General Elections scheduled for 18 January 2023.
The CARICOM Secretary-General has appointed Ms. Josephine Tamai, Chief Elections Officer of the Elections and Boundaries Department of Belize to head the CARICOM Mission.
Ms. Tamai has previously served as Chief of Mission for general elections held in Jamaica in 2016, The Bahamas in 2017 and Dominica in 2019, and Deputy Chief of Mission for elections in Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago in 2015.
The CARICOM Election Observation Mission proposes to meet with leaders of political parties, the electoral officials and other stakeholders of Antigua and Barbuda and will monitor the voting process including the opening of the poll, the casting of votes, the closing of the poll and the counting of the ballots.
The Team will arrive in Antigua and Barbuda on 11 and 15 January 2023 and will depart on 20 January 2023. Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Gaston Browne, on December 18, announced January 18, 2023 as the date for general election and urged supporters to ensure that his government is returned to power.
General elections were last held in Antigua and Barbuda on March 21, 2018, with Browne's ABLP winning 15 of the 17 seats. The main opposition, United Progressive Party (UPP), and the Barbuda People's Movement (BPM) won the other two seats.
The winning ABLP with 50.4% of the votes won 15 of the seventeen seats in the House of Representatives, while the UPP, with 37.2% of the votes managed to eke out only 1 seat. The remaining seat went to the Barbuda People's Movement which got 1.44% of the votes.
The Joanne Massiah led Democratic National Alliance (DNA) failed to win any seats in the 2018 election.
In the meantime, Commonwealth Secretary-General, Patricia Scotland KC, has announced the composition of the Commonwealth Observation Group in response to an invitation from the Government of Antigua and Barbuda.
In a statement, the Secretary-General said: “I thank Danny Faure for accepting my invitation to lead this group and each of the Commonwealth observers for agreeing to undertake this important assignment.
“The group, which is independent and impartial, will assess the overall conduct of the election and, at the end, make recommendations which will contribute towards strengthening the electoral process in Antigua and Barbuda.”
The group’s mandate is to observe the preparations for the election, the polling, counting, tabulation procedures and the overall electoral environment as well as consider any factors that could impinge upon the credibility of the process as a whole.
Prior to deployment, the group will also have briefings with the country’s political party representatives, police officers and several stakeholders, including officials from the Electoral Commission, the media and social society groups representing women, youth and people with disabilities.
The group will submit its recommendations in a report to the Commonwealth Secretary-General, who will forward it to the Government of Antigua and Barbuda, the country’s Electoral Commission, the leadership of political parties taking part in the elections and all Commonwealth governments.
The report will be made public shortly after this. The group comprises five eminent persons from across the Commonwealth. They will be supported by a staff team from the Secretariat led by Prof Luis Franceschi, Assistant Secretary-General of the Commonwealth.
The group comprise H.E. Danny Faure, Former President Seychelles; Hon. Gideon Moi, Politician and former Senator Kenya; Ms Clare Keizer, Journalist and Editor-in-Chief at Searchlight St. Vincent and the Grenadines; Baroness Denise Kingsmill CBE, Member of the House of Lords, United Kingdom and Mr Patrick Kryticous Nshindano, Public Policy and Election Expert and former Chief Election Officer, Zambia. They are expected to arrive in Saint John’s on 14 January 2023.