TORTOLA, British Virgin Islands, Feb 17, CMC – Forty-one candidates will contest the February 25 general election in this British Overseas Territory, Supervisor of Elections, Juliette Penn, has said.
The candidates were nominated for the local and the territorial at-large electoral districts. Under the law, they were required to be nominated by two registered voters of the electoral district for which they are seeking election, and the nomination paper was attested by one witness. At-large candidates were nominated by any two registered voters in the (British) Virgin Islands.
Twenty-five candidates, including four political parties and one independent, will contest the elections in nine districts, while 15 candidates will contest the poll as at-large candidates.
The four parties contesting the elections are the Progressives United, Virgin Islands Party, Progressive Virgin Islands Movement (PVIM) and ruling National Democratic Party (NDP).
It is the first time in the Territory’s political history that four separate political parties are contesting the election.
In June last year, Premier and NDP leader, Orlando Smith, indicated he would be stepping down and not contesting the next general election.
The party will be led by outgoing Education Minister Myron Walwyn while the PVIM is being led by Ronnie Skelton, who left the NDP to form his own political party. Second District Representative Melvin “Mitch” Turnbull also left the NDP to join Skelton as did at-large representative, Archie Christian.
Meantime, Deputy Governor David D. Archer Jr. has reminded political candidates and their supporters of the Code of Conduct governing general elections.
“It has been reported that posters and other election material are being defaced by members of the public and inappropriate memes are being circulated throughout the Territory,” he said.
Archer said Section 6(d) of the Code states that “No political party or any of its members or supporters, and no candidate or any of his or her supporters, may damage or deface property, including the election posters, placards, banners and other election material of another party or candidate, and any posters or other voter education materials disseminated by the Office of the Supervisor of Elections.”
The Deputy Governor also said the Code also makes reference to the defamation of character.
“The emphasis must be on issues rather than personalities,” he said. “Candidates must also avoid defamation of character of their opponents, their families and supporters.”
The Code, which became effective with the passing of the Elections (Amendment) Act, 2019, on January 29, “promotes conditions that are conducive to free and fair elections.”
It also “promotes best practices, directing the responsible behaviour that should be upheld during an election,” the government said.
“The Office of the Deputy Governor provides oversight of the Office of the Supervisor of Elections and is committed to ensuring fair and clean elections,” according to a government statement issued here.