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Tuesday, January 19, 1999 Published at 12:18 GMT

World: Americas

Grenada PM wins second term

Keith Mitchell celebrates with supporters

Grenada's Prime Minister Keith Mitchell has won a landslide election victory, according to preliminary results.

If the outcome is confirmed, the ruling New National Party will become the first to win two successive terms since 1984, when parliamentary democracy was restored in the three southern Caribbean islands which make up the country.

The preliminary results from Monday's ballot suggest the New National Party will have a much stronger mandate to govern. Before the election it only had an 8-7 majority. The final figures are expected on Tuesday.

In Mr Mitchell's own constituency, St George's Northwest, he won 89% of the vote.

[ image: Supporters of Keith Mitchell - unimpressed by opposition campaign]
Supporters of Keith Mitchell - unimpressed by opposition campaign
"I honestly believe it's a turning point in the history of Grenada," he said, before joining a massive celebration in the streets of his home district.

"People are tired of the old-style politics of vicious attacks on person and family and they are ready to take the country into a new era."

Alleged corruption

The election was triggered 18 months early when two of Mr Mitchell's ministers defected to the opposition after it charged the government with corruption.

Mr Mitchell was accused of irregularities in awarding contracts for public works projects and favouring foreign investors with chequered pasts.

[ image: Voters at a polling station - turnout was lower than before]
Voters at a polling station - turnout was lower than before
But the opposition paid a high price. Robert Grant of the opposition New Democratic Party said the six weeks between Mr Mitchell's call for elections and the vote was not enough time for them to prepare.

He said: "We were caught with our pants down. By our standards, this was a snap election."

Correspondents say that Mr Mitchell's achievements impressed the people of Grenada despite the charges against his administration - which one newspaper had called "the most corrupt since 1984".

In three years in power, Mr Mitchell succeeded in stimulating economic growth and attracting investment - an important source of capital since Grenada's importance in countering Cuba's influence in the Caribbean, and the matching foreign aid, has dwindled.

Mr Mitchell promised to bring stability and more foreign investment to the country if re-elected.

Turnout was lower than at previous elections: initial figures showed that about 60% of the electorate went to the polls.

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