Barbados holds snap general election amid criticism

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (AP) — The Eastern Caribbean island of Barbados held a snap general election on Wednesday after cutting ties with Queen Elizabeth II late last year and appointing its first-ever president as leader. of the newest republic in the world.

Barbados Labor Party Prime Minister Mia Mottley is seeking a second term for a five-year post she won in 2018, when she became the island’s first female leader. She faces opponents including Verla De Peiza of the Democratic Labor Party and Joseph Atherley of the Alliance Party for Progress coalition.

Mottley’s and De Peiza’s parties have candidates running to fill each of the 30 seats in the Island’s House of Assembly, while Atherley’s party has 20 such candidates. The Assembly is the island’s lower house of parliament, with 16 seats needed for a majority. No election is held for the 21 members of the Senate as they are nominated by the recently elected President of Barbados.

Barbados is one of the wealthiest nations in the Caribbean, but the winner faces a pandemic-battered economy and a still struggling tourism industry.

Opposition leaders have widely criticized Mottley for holding a snap general election more than a year ahead of schedule and accused her of trying to consolidate power. Mottley dismissed those accusations and said the election was a stop to refuel and continue transforming the country.

An opposition candidate filed an injunction to try to stop Mottley from holding the election given the number of sick voters. The NationNews newspaper reported that 5,700 people on the island of more than 300,000 cannot vote as they are in isolation with COVID-19 infections.

Mottley made the election announcement shortly after Barbados first became a republic and nominated Governor General Sandra Mason for president. The island which gained independence from the United Kingdom in November 1966 had announced its intention in 2020 to cease to be a constitutional monarchy.

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Associated Press writer Dánica Coto in San Juan, Puerto Rico contributed.

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