SOUTH CAICOS, Turks and Caicos Islands -- The party of former Turks and Caicos Premier Michael Misick was once again poised to lead the British dependent territory Saturday, three years after it was kicked out of power by a United Kingdom investigation into widespread government corruption in the sun-kissed tourist haven.
A spokesman for the British-appointed governors office said late Saturday that provisional vote totals had the Progressive National Party winning eight seats and the main opposition, Peoples Democratic Party, had garnered seven. The results, however, would not be finalized until after a recount scheduled for Monday.
The recount was requested by PDM party leader Oswald Skippings, who placed in a disappointing eighth place as an at-large candidate.
The recount request came amid complaints about the process that forced some voters to leave the line after long waits and questions about one of the winners citizenship status. Candidates were supposed to have renounced foreign citizenships before the vote on Friday.
While Skippings failed to win the confidence of voters, his deputy, Sharlene Cartwright Robinson, a young lawyer from South Caicos, received the highest number of votes, 3,427, in a field of 11 at-large candidates. Rufus Ewing, the leader of the PNP and the next premier if Saturdays results hold, finished behind Cartwright with 3,252 votes.
The general elections came after three years of direct British rule.
Voters on Friday joked that they were the Florida of the Caribbean as many stood in line in Providenciales and in the capital, Grand Turk, for up to eight hours to cast ballots that took just three minutes to fill out.
That wasnt where the Florida comparison ended. The count also took longer than expected as rumors swirled over BlackBerry Messenger and Facebook about who had won and who had lost.
Among the losers were Haiti-born former airline founder and operator Harold Charles, who formed a third party, the Progressive Peoples Party. Winners included three former chief ministers:Misicks brother, Washington Misick; former PDM leader Derek Taylor; and the PNP candidate for South Caicos, Norman Saunders. Saunders 1985 conviction in Miami on drug trafficking led to the first commission of inquiry that led to a suspension of British rule. In 2009, the British returned with another investigation and suspension of the local government.
There was little in terms of issues separating the two main political parties as they complained about the Britishs reforms and agreed that it was time for the people of the Turks and Caicos to take power back.
In addition to introducing austerity measures to reform the public service and return the islands to financial health, the British interim government has overseen the indictment of 13 people, including four former cabinet ministers on corruption-related charges. There also is an Interpol arrest warrant for Misick, who is wanted for questioning by investigators. Those charged have a court appearance Monday in Providenciales.