Jamaicans urged to stay calm, restrained as ballot recount changes election results
KINGSTON, Feb. 28 (Xinhua) -- Both the ruling People's National Party (PNP) and the opposition Jamaica Labor Party (JLP) Sunday urged supporters to stay calm and restrained as a ballot recount began to change the country's election results.
Preliminary results on Thursday showed that the JLP, led by Andrew Holness, garnered 33 seats in the 63-seat House of Representatives, while the PNP, led by Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller, won the other 30 seats.
But a procedural recount has shown the seat for the constituency of St. Mary South East, which had been taken by the JLP based on preliminary results, was eventually the PNP's, thus the slim-margin win claimed by the JLP became 32 to 31.
The Caribbean island nation became restless as any other seat change from the JLP to the PNP would reverse the positions of the winner and the loser.
In light of "tension in some areas across the island," Simpson-Miller issued a statement Sunday appealing to supporters of both parties to remain calm and restrained as the recount continues.
"All Jamaicans have the responsibility to ensure that Jamaica's reputation as a mature democracy is preserved and nothing causes hurt to anyone," she said, adding that the country has made important economic gains that no one can afford to reverse at this time.
Meanwhile, JLP General Secretary Horace Chang raised concerns over "rumors" about the change of the election results and also called on Jamaicans to stay calm.
"There has been no change to the fact that the Jamaica Labor Party has won the popular vote and retains the majority of parliamentary seats," he said, insisting that even the recount result for the constituency of St. Mary South East will eventually be overturned.
According to Orrette Fisher, director of elections in Jamaica, the recount is still in process and will not be completed until Monday.
In a statement released Sunday evening, Holness said he has spoken to Fisher asking the electoral commission to move as quickly as possible in completing the final count because "any delay could have serious effects on Jamaica's macroeconomic and financial market indicators."
Holness said he has already moved to take charge of the government and as soon as the counts are finalized, he will be sworn in as the prime minister.
Jamaica's parliament has two chambers -- the 63-member House of Representatives, which is directly elected, and the 21-member Senate, of which 13 members are chosen by the prime minister and the other eight members by the leader of the opposition.
Parliamentary members in Jamaica have five-year terms. The party which holds the majority seats in the House of Representatives will form the cabinet and its leader will be sworn in as the prime minister.