NASSAU, Bahamas, CMC – The Bahamas government has confirmed that foreign observers including those from the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) have been invited to monitor the general elections to be held here in May.
While Prime Minister Perry Christie has not yet disclosed the date for the poll, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that “The Bahamas has invited representative international observers from four international organizations or nations to observe the upcoming elections”.
It said these include the CARICOM, the Commonwealth of Nations; the Organisation of American States (OAS); and the United States of America.
The ruling Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) is expected to face a challenge from the main opposition Free National Movement (FNM) and the Democratic National Alliance (DNA) for control of the 41 seats in the Parliament.
In the last general election in 2012, apart from the three political parties, there were several independent candidates and at least one other political party.
The announcement by the government that it was allowing foreign observer teams comes amid allegations of voter irregularities in the lead up to the election day.
The Parliamentary Registration Department has confirmed reports of people registering at least more than once in some constituencies.
“We have noticed that people have been registering twice,” said Parliamentary Commissioner, Sherlyn Hall, noting “this is dishonesty”.
He said he had referred a case to the police “where someone registered within five days two different locations, same constituency, but different locations for the same polling station”.
Police have confirmed that an “adult male” had been arrested “for alleged voter registration fraud reported by the Parliamentary Commissioner”.
Both the PLP and the FNM have been trading accusations with FNM leader Dr. Hubert Minnis telling a rally over the last weekend that the Parliamentary Registration Department’s computer had crashed resulting in several names of registered voters being erased.
But National Security Minister Dr. Bernard Nottage has dismissed the allegation, saying there has been a ‘considerable attempt to discredit people who work in the Parliamentary Registration Department and the whole process”.