Record 35 nominated for 2019 Elections

Montserrat’s General Elections continue since 2001 to be conducted under what is sometimes commonly called the 9X voting system.

Volcanic activity which began in 1995 resulted in four and a half of the original seven constituencies in Montserrat being unoccupied.  As a result, the pre-1995 electoral arrangements became unworkable.  In February 1999, the Governor appointed a commission to suggest reforms.  The Commission reported in May 1999.  Their main recommendations were that:

  • the single-member, multi-constituency, first-past-the-post electoral system be replaced by a single constituency system under a modified first-past-the-post arrangement;
  • the nominated membership to the Legislative Council be abolished and the elected membership be increased from seven to nine accordingly.

The main recommendations were accepted by HMG and the new system was used in the 2001 and subsequent elections.

Elections was not constitutionally due until some months after November 2001 but another spate of ‘the curse’ forced a General Elections early 2001, when Mrs. Adelina Tuitt and Rupert Weekes resigned from the David Brandt coalition government. Brandt had replaced Bertrand Osborne who had resigned as Chief Minister in 1997 in the coalition which emerged in November 1996.

Thus it is with the 2001 system still in place that General Elections date was announced for November 18, 2019, the day before the Legislative Assembly parliament was due to be prorogued.

Deposed PDM leader, incumbent Premier, Donaldson Romeo, goes solo on nomination day

Nomination day then, was yesterday, Thursday, November 7, 2019 and at the end of the day Sir Howard Fergus as Returning Officer reported that a record number of 35 candidates had been duly nominated to contest the said General Elections.

Four parties are contesting the elections, but with three of them not fielding a full slate of nine candidates, the final number of 35 would have been more.

Dr. Lowell Lewis

Dr. Lowell Lewis who is a former Chief Minister heads a new grouping under Montserrat National Congress (MNC) with five candidates, two being ladies, but who while sharing the MNC platform have not yet committed to the party. That ‘grouping’ consists of Dr. Lewis with a long political history, which began in the 80s, joined by Gregory ‘Saga’ Willock, and Chedmond Browne, also with a fairly long political history associated with the PLM winning a seat in 2001-06, workers union alliance and considered a knowledgeable, serious political activist.

MNC member and associated
Gregory Willock and Chedmond Browne and left: Dr. Ingrid Buffonge

Willock demonstrated his political acumen, won on the PDM in 2014, leaving the party and joined the popular 2014 Dr. Ingrid in bringing a motion of ‘no confidence’ against PDM, later gaining historical prominence in their exuberance causing them to be suspended for a short period from sitting in the Assembly.

In that grouping Miss Veta Wade is the freshman, after failing selection with MCAP decided she had what it takes to be a politician who can contribute and deliver. She at first joined other MCAP rejects, Glen Francis, former MSS principal and Education Officer, as an independent and Bertram Lee who joined MULP.

The MULP candidates
l-r: Keithroy ‘de Bear’ Morson, Jermaine Wade, Peter Queeley, Bertram Lee, and Algie Greaves

There is the Montserrat United Labour Party (MULP) headed by Peter Queeley manager of St. Patrick’s Co-op Credit Union (SPCCU), and who lists himself as a banker at Nomination. The party is a group of five, all male. Included in the five-man party is Germaine Wade, second in command to Queeley; along with Algie Greaves; current Antigua reigning calypso monarch Keithroy ‘de Bear’ Morson did contest the 2017 by-election and has over the years has made many a comment on political affairs; and includes Bertram Lee who is a leftover from the MCAP selectees for the candidacy.

The incumbent PDM minus Romeo, and two others, with newcomer, Dwayne Hixon
back row l-r: Emile Duberry, Claude Hogan, David Duberry;
front row l-r: David Hixon, Delmaude Ryan, Dwayne Hixon, (new leader) Paul Lewis

PDM with their late move of changing leader Romeo, having already lost two (now aligned with MNC) at mid-term, keeps David Osborne, who reportedly has recovered sufficiently from his recent illness; along with one newcomer but a strong party man in Dwayne Hixon, gives the party a total of seven candidates, the number which they swept into power in 2014. The other incumbents to Osborne are, Paul Lewis, the new leader, Delmaude Ryan, and Claude Hogan. Then the final two Duberrys, Trixie and Emile, both who contested the 2014 elections, filing in not too far off in the 11th and 12th spots behind only Kirnon.

MCAP members on nomination day
back row l-r: Crenston Buffonge, Easton Taylor-Farrell, Charlesworth Philip, Roselyn Sealy, Dr. Sammy Joseph,
front row l-r: Norman Cassell, Veronica Dorsett, Charles Kirnon, Jenzil Skerritt

MCAP enters with a full slate of nine after a somewhat tumultuous and reportedly disagreeable selection of candidates, shows five new-comers to the party. Norman Cassell and Crenston Buffonge contested the 2014 elections as Independents with Charlesworth Philip who contested with PLM previously. Attorney-at-Law, former magistrate Veronica Kaye Dorsette-Hector, and Jenzil Skerritt are fresh. Roselyn Sealy Former deputy Chief Minister in the Dr. Lewis government 2008-2009 had previously sat in the Legislature from 2001-2009. She was cheated out in the 2009 elections but she sat out in 2014. Charles Kirnon who won a seat with NPP under retired former Premier Reuben T Meade in 1991 has been in and out. He lost in 1996, 2001; won a seat under Roselyn Sealy in 2006 and again in 2009; out in 2014 and is one of the few veterans in the politics. There is the new leader Easton Taylor-Farrell, who won in 2006 through to 2019.

Charles Kirnon is now the longest in active politics and perhaps unlucky not to hold the leadership spot. Finally, Dr. Samuel Joseph, won the by-election required when RT Meade retired and must have been in contention for the leadership, rumoured but denied such fight exists.

left: Alvin ‘Jim” Gerald with nominator
Dunstan Lindesay (left) with nominator
Shirley Osborne (ctr) with nominators

Then there is the final full slate of nine: The early ones: Donaldson Romeo, Victor James, has been in the political scene for some years, serving in the Legislature 2009-14; Alvin (Jim) Gerald; Karen ’Lioness’ Allen; former Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, Shirley Osborne (sister of David Osborne), Glen Francis (also one of the MCAP left-outs), Wilford ‘Moose’ Meade; Dunstan Lindsey, and latecomer, Eulyn Graves.

All of these candidates according to the Returning Officer Sir Howard Fergus showed up on time, and early enough that by lunchtime 24 of the 35 had been duly nominated and conducted without any hitches.

The Returning officer said told ZJB News that there are challenges which are not insurmountable, but said that the record number of candidates, beating the previous 29, might pose, “an even stronger case now for a change in this system…” adding that he didn’t wish to say then, the way he would the change, noting also that there have been recommendations on the matter, but it should be decided by the people.

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Montserrat’s General Elections continue since 2001 to be conducted under what is sometimes commonly called the 9X voting system.

Volcanic activity which began in 1995 resulted in four and a half of the original seven constituencies in Montserrat being unoccupied.  As a result, the pre-1995 electoral arrangements became unworkable.  In February 1999, the Governor appointed a commission to suggest reforms.  The Commission reported in May 1999.  Their main recommendations were that:

The main recommendations were accepted by HMG and the new system was used in the 2001 and subsequent elections.

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Elections was not constitutionally due until some months after November 2001 but another spate of ‘the curse’ forced a General Elections early 2001, when Mrs. Adelina Tuitt and Rupert Weekes resigned from the David Brandt coalition government. Brandt had replaced Bertrand Osborne who had resigned as Chief Minister in 1997 in the coalition which emerged in November 1996.

Thus it is with the 2001 system still in place that General Elections date was announced for November 18, 2019, the day before the Legislative Assembly parliament was due to be prorogued.

Deposed PDM leader, incumbent Premier, Donaldson Romeo, goes solo on nomination day

Nomination day then, was yesterday, Thursday, November 7, 2019 and at the end of the day Sir Howard Fergus as Returning Officer reported that a record number of 35 candidates had been duly nominated to contest the said General Elections.

Four parties are contesting the elections, but with three of them not fielding a full slate of nine candidates, the final number of 35 would have been more.

Dr. Lowell Lewis

Dr. Lowell Lewis who is a former Chief Minister heads a new grouping under Montserrat National Congress (MNC) with five candidates, two being ladies, but who while sharing the MNC platform have not yet committed to the party. That ‘grouping’ consists of Dr. Lewis with a long political history, which began in the 80s, joined by Gregory ‘Saga’ Willock, and Chedmond Browne, also with a fairly long political history associated with the PLM winning a seat in 2001-06, workers union alliance and considered a knowledgeable, serious political activist.

MNC member and associated
Gregory Willock and Chedmond Browne and left: Dr. Ingrid Buffonge

Willock demonstrated his political acumen, won on the PDM in 2014, leaving the party and joined the popular 2014 Dr. Ingrid in bringing a motion of ‘no confidence’ against PDM, later gaining historical prominence in their exuberance causing them to be suspended for a short period from sitting in the Assembly.

In that grouping Miss Veta Wade is the freshman, after failing selection with MCAP decided she had what it takes to be a politician who can contribute and deliver. She at first joined other MCAP rejects, Glen Francis, former MSS principal and Education Officer, as an independent and Bertram Lee who joined MULP.

The MULP candidates
l-r: Keithroy ‘de Bear’ Morson, Jermaine Wade, Peter Queeley, Bertram Lee, and Algie Greaves

There is the Montserrat United Labour Party (MULP) headed by Peter Queeley manager of St. Patrick’s Co-op Credit Union (SPCCU), and who lists himself as a banker at Nomination. The party is a group of five, all male. Included in the five-man party is Germaine Wade, second in command to Queeley; along with Algie Greaves; current Antigua reigning calypso monarch Keithroy ‘de Bear’ Morson did contest the 2017 by-election and has over the years has made many a comment on political affairs; and includes Bertram Lee who is a leftover from the MCAP selectees for the candidacy.

The incumbent PDM minus Romeo, and two others, with newcomer, Dwayne Hixon
back row l-r: Emile Duberry, Claude Hogan, David Duberry;
front row l-r: David Hixon, Delmaude Ryan, Dwayne Hixon, (new leader) Paul Lewis

PDM with their late move of changing leader Romeo, having already lost two (now aligned with MNC) at mid-term, keeps David Osborne, who reportedly has recovered sufficiently from his recent illness; along with one newcomer but a strong party man in Dwayne Hixon, gives the party a total of seven candidates, the number which they swept into power in 2014. The other incumbents to Osborne are, Paul Lewis, the new leader, Delmaude Ryan, and Claude Hogan. Then the final two Duberrys, Trixie and Emile, both who contested the 2014 elections, filing in not too far off in the 11th and 12th spots behind only Kirnon.

MCAP members on nomination day
back row l-r: Crenston Buffonge, Easton Taylor-Farrell, Charlesworth Philip, Roselyn Sealy, Dr. Sammy Joseph,
front row l-r: Norman Cassell, Veronica Dorsett, Charles Kirnon, Jenzil Skerritt

MCAP enters with a full slate of nine after a somewhat tumultuous and reportedly disagreeable selection of candidates, shows five new-comers to the party. Norman Cassell and Crenston Buffonge contested the 2014 elections as Independents with Charlesworth Philip who contested with PLM previously. Attorney-at-Law, former magistrate Veronica Kaye Dorsette-Hector, and Jenzil Skerritt are fresh. Roselyn Sealy Former deputy Chief Minister in the Dr. Lewis government 2008-2009 had previously sat in the Legislature from 2001-2009. She was cheated out in the 2009 elections but she sat out in 2014. Charles Kirnon who won a seat with NPP under retired former Premier Reuben T Meade in 1991 has been in and out. He lost in 1996, 2001; won a seat under Roselyn Sealy in 2006 and again in 2009; out in 2014 and is one of the few veterans in the politics. There is the new leader Easton Taylor-Farrell, who won in 2006 through to 2019.

Charles Kirnon is now the longest in active politics and perhaps unlucky not to hold the leadership spot. Finally, Dr. Samuel Joseph, won the by-election required when RT Meade retired and must have been in contention for the leadership, rumoured but denied such fight exists.

left: Alvin ‘Jim” Gerald with nominator
Dunstan Lindesay (left) with nominator
Shirley Osborne (ctr) with nominators

Then there is the final full slate of nine: The early ones: Donaldson Romeo, Victor James, has been in the political scene for some years, serving in the Legislature 2009-14; Alvin (Jim) Gerald; Karen ’Lioness’ Allen; former Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, Shirley Osborne (sister of David Osborne), Glen Francis (also one of the MCAP left-outs), Wilford ‘Moose’ Meade; Dunstan Lindsey, and latecomer, Eulyn Graves.

All of these candidates according to the Returning Officer Sir Howard Fergus showed up on time, and early enough that by lunchtime 24 of the 35 had been duly nominated and conducted without any hitches.

The Returning officer said told ZJB News that there are challenges which are not insurmountable, but said that the record number of candidates, beating the previous 29, might pose, “an even stronger case now for a change in this system…” adding that he didn’t wish to say then, the way he would the change, noting also that there have been recommendations on the matter, but it should be decided by the people.