All prepared!

by Donna Sealy

The Electoral and Boundaries Commission will not be caught napping if Prime Minister Freundel Stuart rings the general election bell tomorrow.

Chairman Owen Estwick told Barbados TODAY that the officers were ready for “any time”.

“[Preparing for elections] is an ongoing process. The registering officers are there updating the register of electors on a daily basis. As a matter of fact, a visit to the department by anyone would show that people are there for ID cards — some renewing, some for the first time, some … getting themselves ready in the event…

“We have a minimum of 21 days in which to get action. I imagine the Printery would stop doing whatever [it is] doing to start printing ballot papers and we are in the process of giving further training to the Registering Officers, especially those who’ve never worked in a general election. We’ve had some staff changes since the last General Election [2008]. We’ve had new people coming on and they would be having their first full rehearsal and to that extent, they will be getting the chance of being prepared for elections,” he said.

The officers, said the chairman, would have been exposed to their more experienced colleagues when they started working at the department.

While he could not say whether there had been any significant increase in the number of people visiting the department, he stated that they did publish, on an ongoing basis, the need for people to get themselves prepared.

Estwick also said that there had been what was reported as “very successful meetings with representatives of the political parties”.

“We invited the Democratic Labour Party, the Barbados Labour Party and the People’s Empowerment Party,” he said.

He noted that the new political parties did not have to register with the EBC and noted there was nothing in law called a political party and explained that if a group of people felt they could get themselves ready to face the electorate within the time frame called by the Prime Minister, they could go ahead.

This weekend, members of the ruling Democratic Labour Party will be holding their annual conference.

Conference Chairman Michael Carrington said at a press conference earlier this week to announce plans for the three-day event, that they were “on the verge of a general election” and while Prime Minister Freundel Stuart had not announced the date for the contest, the party was “organised and ready”.

“We will take the opportunity of this, our last annual conference before elections, to titillate our membership, as it were in this regard; you may consider it a call to arms if you wish, for that is what it is,” Carrington assured.

He said it was also a time to re-energise and refocus rather than getting weary.

“Annual conferences also provide opportunities for members to reflect and to re-energise. They also provide an opportunity to plan and to define new vistas and start new dreams… This conference is a time for moving forward, for planning for this country’s future and the future of this party. We cannot forget the challenges of yesterday nor the trials that presented themselves. We cannot and should not forget. Neither can we in the face of difficult times allow ourselves to be overcome and overwhelmed by the waves of worry and fear.

“The Barbados Labour Party has been holding more public meetings and General Secretary George Griffith said in an interview earlier this week that “the view on the ground is that there is definite swing towards the BLP as was borne out by the CADRES poll but across the country, there is a definite indication that the people at large want to have an election”.

The New Barbados Kingdom Alliance, led by President Apostle Lynroy Scantlebury, has been canvassing in St. Peter, the seat he will be contesting whenever the election bell is rung by Prime Minister Stuart.

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