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Friday, December 19, 1997 Published at 00:33 GMT


One dead in Jamaica election violence
image: [ There had been hopes for a peaceful polling day ]
There had been hopes for a peaceful polling day

One person has been killed and four injured in shootings during the general election in Jamaica.

Authorities said violence was sporadic in comparison to past Jamaican election campaigns, marred by shootings and acts of intimidation at polling places.

During the 1980 election, some 800 people were killed.

The late arrival of ballots led electoral officials to delay voting in many areas. Some people also had trouble finding their names on voters' lists or determining where they were supposed to vote.

[ image: PJ Patterson: expected to win record third term]
PJ Patterson: expected to win record third term
Final opinion polls suggested that the governing People's National Party, led by the Prime Minister PJ Patterson, was likely to retain its majority.

The main issue during the campaign was the island's poor economic state, high unemployment and education. The vote is being monitored by a 60-member team of international observers, including former US President Jimmy Carter, world heavyweight boxing champion Evander Holyfield and the retired chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Colin Powell.

Mr Patterson, and his main rival, Edward Seaga, earlier issued a joint appeal that violence should not spoil the election, but the BBC Correspondent in Jamaica says the hostility and mutual dislike between Mr Patterson and Mr Seaga is strong.

Recent elections have been plagued by violence

[ image: Security was tight throughout the campaign]
Security was tight throughout the campaign
Nearly 900 Jamaicans were killed in the bloody run-up to 1980 elections, which were won by Mr Seaga's Jamaica Labor Party.

In the past, heavily armed gangs working for the rival political parties have used automatic weapons and machetes to murder, silence or intimidate their opponents.

The economy and crime are key issues

Mr Patterson is widely expected to secure the People's National Party a record third successive term in office and a second full term as premier for himself.

[ image: Edward Seaga's Labour Party is in danger of losing its third election in a row]
Edward Seaga's Labour Party is in danger of losing its third election in a row
The future of Mr Seaga's Labor party could depend on the results of these elections. This year most Jamaicans are facing a three way choice at the polls. The fledgling New Democratic Movement, founded by former Labor Party official Bruce Golding, is contesting most of the 60 seats in Parliament but was running a distant third in opinion polls.


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  Relevant Stories

03 Dec 97 | World
Electoral violence in Jamaica

27 Nov 97 | World
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