Cayman Islands elections to be monitored by Commonwealth observers

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GEORGE TOWN, Cayman Islands (CNS) — With the Cayman Islands about to engage in its first election under the new system of ‘one man, one vote’ in single-member constituencies, officials have confirmed that a team of Commonwealth observers will be coming to Cayman to oversee the 24 May general election.
Following a successful mission in 2013, the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) election experts will monitor the political campaigning, electoral administration, polling, counting, tabulation and post-election complaints or appeals for the 2017 poll.
Voter registration is already closed but the team will also retrospectively examine that and the accessibility of the register for the election.
The Governor’s Office and the Elections Office are arranging the monitoring through the CPA’s British Islands and Mediterranean Region (BIMR), the same group that observed the 2013 poll.
Supervisor of Elections Wesley Howell said that following the last successful CPA deployment, he welcomed the chance to work with the Commonwealth again.
“The changes to Cayman’s electoral system make the mission particularly relevant to ensure independent scrutiny of the process,” he added.
The last mission was headed by Mario Galea, a Member of Parliament from Malta. The team concluded that the elections had met the international standards for a democratic, genuine and transparent vote.
The mission was mostly welcomed by the politicians and candidates participating in the elections, though then premier McKeeva Bush tried to block it, saying that it would send a signal that there was something potentially wrong with local democracy and accused the UK of trying to embarrass the Cayman Islands.
Current premier, Alden McLaughlin, who was opposition leader at the time, said he believed the request by Britain for Cayman to invite observers resulted from a complete loss of trust in the government of the Cayman Islands over the previous four years and the numerous questionable actions of the former premier and his administration.
At the time, Bush was in conflict with the governor, the FCO and the police commissioner as he was under investigation in relation to the misuse of his government credit card. He had been charged with corruption related offences but he was later acquitted by a jury following a Grand Court trial.
There has been no comment from the political arm of government or any of the other candidates contesting this election about the upcoming mission but it seems that the switch from multi-member, multi voting to the new one man, one vote in single-member constituencies is reason enough to ensure Cayman manages this new system fairly.
Acting Governor Franz Manderson said he welcomed the mission to watch over what he described as historic elections.
“Commonwealth participation in election monitoring is a well established practice and provides important independent scrutiny,” he added.
The mission will be jointly funded by the UK and Cayman Islands government and a preliminary report will be published within two days of the election and a closing report within two months, assessing the electoral process and making recommendations for future elections.
Although the government has adopted some of the recommendations from the previous report, it has not addressed the residency issue. The observers described the required duration of residence in the Cayman Islands prior to the date of nomination “to be unreasonable and undermined the right to stand for elective office”. However, the seven-year rule has not been changed.

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