In Bahamas Citizens vote in general election amid corruption allegations

Voters in the Bahamas cast their ballots Wednesday in closely-contested general elections, with the island nation's incumbent prime minister dogged by scandals and double-digit unemployment.

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About 180,000 people are registered to cast votes in the Bahamas' election. Supporters of the Free National Movement (FNM) are shown here gathered at a polling station in Nassau play

About 180,000 people are registered to cast votes in the Bahamas' election. Supporters of the Free National Movement (FNM) are shown here gathered at a polling station in Nassau

(AFP)
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Voters in the Bahamas cast their ballots Wednesday in closely-contested general elections, with the island nation's incumbent prime minister dogged by scandals and double-digit unemployment.

The election pits the party of Prime Minister Perry Christie -- a veteran politician from the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) -- against his main opponent, Hubert Minnis of the Free National Movement (FNM), a physician.

The vote in the Bahamas, a former British colony off the coast of Florida, has been overshadowed by the long-delayed opening of a $4.2 billion mega-resort called Baha Mar.

Last month's spectacular failure of the Fyre music festival -- which stranded partygoers who paid as much as $100,000 to attend -- is also a factor in the voting.

Minnis is campaigning on a platform of change, seeking to implement term limits on the prime minister and promote "Bahamian ownership in the economy," according to his website.

Critics of the 73-year-old Christie, who is finishing his second non-consecutive term as prime minister, say the time has come for him to retire.

"I support the FNM 100 percent, because I feel Christie was not doing a good job in the five years we gave him," Nassau resident Jmeail Dames said of the prime minister's current term.

Christie prompted condemnation earlier this year when he denied corruption accusations by raising his middle finger to reporters.

His education minister, Jerome Fitzgerald, is also embroiled in controversy over a shady multimillion-dollar business allegedly seeking contracts from the Baha Mar resort, which is controlled by Chinese investors.

Foreign investment

Under construction for almost a decade with Chinese financing and construction workers, Baha Mar was taken over by a Chinese conglomerate in 2016 after its original developer tried to file for bankruptcy in the United States.

The island archipelago, which gained independence from Britain in 1973, heavily depends on tourism and foreign investment into resorts and other attractions.

A Christie win would benefit Chinese investors, while US investors could benefit if the FNM takes the reins, Business Insider wrote.

Voters are casting ballots for 39 seats in the House of Assembly. The party with the majority of seats will form the government.

Polls opened at 8 am (1200 GMT), with more than 180,000 people registered to vote in 39 constituencies across the country.

Voting has been taking place calmly.

However, a polling station on the main island New Providence opened late following concerns about ballots, and some of those waiting left without voting.

Voting was scheduled to end at 6 pm (2000 GMT), with unofficial results expected around 10 pm (0000 GMT).

International observers the Caribbean Community, the Commonwealth of Nations, the Organization of American States and the United States were invited to monitor the election.

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