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Thursday, 17 October, 2002, 09:15 GMT 10:15 UK
Victory for Jamaica's ruling party
Patterson supporters celebrate victory
Patterson won for a record fourth term
Members of Jamaica's governing People's National Party (PNP), led by Prime Minister PJ Patterson, have been celebrating after winning the country's general election.

Provisional results gave the PNP 35 seats in the 60-seat parliament against 22 for the opposition Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) led by Edward Seaga.


The message that we must derive is that all of us must work in unity in order to build a better Jamaica

P J Patterson, Prime Minister
The victory means an unprecedented fourth successive term in office for the PNP and a record third consecutive term for its leader.

Acknowledging the result, Mr Patterson called for unity, saying he did not see the victory as a campaign between "victor and the vanquished".

Mr Seaga told his supporters he was not going to say "that the Labour Party has lost".

The BBC's correspondent in Jamaica, Nick Miles, says that the election has been fair and largely free of the violence which marred the election campaign.

The authorities had put a massive security operation into play to ensure that the voting went off peacefully.

Results swing

Our correspondent says there has been a swing in favour of the JLP - it went into Wednesday's election holding just 10 seats after losing by a margin of 17% to Mr Patterson's party in 1997.

In his victory speech, Mr Patterson said he "would have preferred a larger margin".

Edward Seaga hugging his wife
Seaga has hinted he could resign
"The message that we must derive is that all of us must work in unity in order to build a better Jamaica," he said.

Mr Seaga has promised to respect the outcome and urged his supporters to do likewise, peacefully.

However, prior to the poll he hinted that if he did not win he might step aside to allow a new leader to take his place.

A number of government ministers were returned to their seats in the House of Representatives, including Finance Minister Omar Davies, Tourism Minister Portia Simpson Miller and Foreign Affairs Minister KD Knight.

About 1.3 million people were eligible to vote in the poll, but many were hampered by torrential rain, suggesting that the turn-out might be lower than the 78% predicted.

In the run-up to the election about 60 people were killed in politically motivated violence.

Violence

Police reported that seven people had been shot dead before the polls opened on Wednesday morning.

However the killings - at Rock Hall, west of the capital Kingston - were not thought to be politically motivated.

More than 11,000 security personnel were deployed in the 7,300 polling stations to prevent trouble breaking out between rival armed political supporters.

Jamaicans in Kingston line up to vote at a polling station
Up to 60 people were killed in violence leading up to the elections

In Kingston, soldiers backed up police at polling stations, particularly in areas that have a history of violence.

In some working class areas of the city, residents blocked off roads with barricades as a security measure against rival political groups.

Former US President Jimmy Carter, who is heading a team of international observers monitoring the elections, said the voting appeared to be orderly.

Jamaica has a long history of political violence - in 1980 more than 800 people were killed in the weeks before the general election.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Nick Miles
"There is no ideological split between the two parties"
See also:

30 Jul 02 | Country profiles
10 Aug 02 | From Our Own Correspondent
09 Jun 02 | Americas
12 Mar 02 | Americas
01 Jan 02 | Americas
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