BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Jan 22, CMC – The minority opposition Clement Payne Movement (CPM) Monday called for an end to vote buying as Barbadians gear up to elect a new government in general elections later this year.
CPM president David Comissiong has challenging the island’s two main political parties – the ruling Democratic Labour Party (DLP) and the main Barbados Labour Party (BLP) to immediately introduce a bill in Parliament to amend the Election Offences and Controversies Act to address the vexing issue.
The CPM, which is generally viewed by voters here as a left wing group, said that “the exchange of hundred dollar bills for votes” had become a standard practice in general elections in Barbados and across the region and if the practice was not brought to an end, it would eventually “totally destroy the public or civic life of our nations.”
“This corrupt practice has resulted in a sizable proportion of the young Barbadian population forming the impression that many, if not most, politicians – including some men and women who get elected to Parliament and some of those who go on to hold ministerial office – are no more than tawdry hustlers and con-men,” said Comissiong, an attorney.
He said that under the Election Offences and Controversies Act both the buyer of the vote and the seller of the vote are guilty of having committed a “corrupt practice”.
Unfortunately, however, there is a big deficiency in the *Election Offences and Controversies Act!* And it is that , having deemed this reprehensible behaviour to be a “corrupt practice”, the Act does *not* go on to stipulate that offenders are to be fined or imprisoned – except in the very limited and restricted case of persons who indulge in this corrupt practice on the public road or in a public place, on Election Day (during the hours that the poll is open), and within 100 yards of a polling station,’ he said in the statement.
Comissiong is proposing that the Royal Barbados Police Force put together a number of motorized “flying squads” in marked and unmarked police vehicles to carry out rapid anti-vote buying surveillance missions in relevant communities during the last week of campaigning and on Polling Day in particular.
“But any such efforts on the part of the Police need to be supported with legislation that allows the Police to properly prosecute apprehended offenders. It is time that we lock up a few of these vote buyers,” he added.
The political parties have been increasing their campaigns ahead of the election that could be held as late as May this year.
The last general election was held on February 21, 2013 resulting in the DLP winning 16 of the 30 seats in the House of Assembly.