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Last Updated: Tuesday, 4 September 2007, 18:28 GMT 19:28 UK
Final count in close Jamaica vote
An election worker escorts ballot boxes to a counting centre
The PNP called for a recount amid allegations of vote "irregularities"
A final count of ballots is under way in Jamaica, where the ruling People's National Party (PNP) is refusing to concede a razor-thin defeat.

Preliminary results gave the opposition Labour Party (JLP) victory, with 31 out of the 60 seats in parliament.

Portia Simpson Miller, Jamaica's first female Prime Minister, said the result was marred by irregularities such as illegal campaigning and "vote buying".

Correspondents say the dispute has created a dangerous political vacuum.

The director of elections, Danville Walker, told the BBC that the final count could take more than two days.

The BBC's Orin Gordon, in Jamaica, says that would mean the result would come after a period of claims and objections from the parties or the candidates.

We're not going to stand by and allow people to use criminals to decide the future of the Jamaican people
Portia Simpson Miller

Three constituencies were decided by fewer than 100 votes. Mrs Simpson Miller, who has been in power for 18 months, refused to concede defeat, saying that some results could change with the final count.

The prime minister said PNP candidates could mount legal challenges in some constituencies.

She alleged that some candidates had campaigned beyond the official cut-off period, and said some of her party members were prevented from casting their ballots.

"We're not going to stand by and allow people to use criminals to decide the future of the Jamaican people," she said.

Cautious speech

Following Monday's preliminary results, the JLP leader, Bruce Golding, made a cautious speech.

Bruce Golding addresses JLP supporters
JLP leader Bruce Golding called for an orderly transition of power
He stopped short of claiming victory but left no doubt that he thought that he would be forming the next government.

"However perplexing some may find the results, the fact is that the people have spoken and we of the Jamaica Labour Party, we accept and respect the decision," said Mr Golding.

"At the moment, the Jamaica Labour Party commands a majority of seats in parliament," he said.

He called for a transition of power in an orderly and peaceful manner.

The voting itself was largely peaceful, but in the St Andrews area of Kingston shots were fired at a polling station from a car.

The two main parties do not differ significantly in ideology. Analysts say voters may have been looking for a change to tackle Jamaica's deep-seated poverty, 9% unemployment and a murder rate that is among the highest in the world.

The election had been scheduled for 27 August but was postponed for a week after Hurricane Dean swept across the island, causing widespread damage.


SEE ALSO
Jamaica rivals tussle after poll
04 Sep 07 |  Americas
Jamaica to decide on 'woman power'
03 Sep 07 |  Americas
Jamaica set for wide-open poll
31 Aug 07 |  Americas
Gang politics 'over' in Jamaica
28 Aug 07 |  Americas
Jamaica gets first woman leader
31 Mar 06 |  Americas
Country profile: Jamaica
22 Aug 07 |  Country profiles

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