Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne will remain in office after his party secured a victory in the country's general elections, but partial election results seem to indicate they will also gain seats.
Voters flocked to Antigua to select members to fill 17 parliamentary positions. With just over 50 percent of the total vote counted, the ruling Antigua Barbuda Labour Party (ABLP) seems poised to win at least 16 seats, while the Harold Lovell-led United Progressive Party (UPP) its main contender, trails far behind.
Antigua and Barbuda have a population of just over 100,000 people.
Last month, Browne called the March 21-snap election, 18 months before they were due. No reason was given for the decision to go to the polls early.
The opposition UPP was ousted by Browne's ABLP in 2014 after the latter won 13 of the 17 seats.
An eight-member Caribbean Community (Caricom) group was invited by Browne to serve as election observers. The team will be led by Chief Election Officer of the Guyana Elections Commission Keith Lowenfield.
Leading up to the election, Browne's ABLP has been plagued with accusations of intimidating opposition supporters; vote-buying, and attempting to prevent Barbudans from voting, according to the Jamaica Observer. All the accusations have been denied by the prime minister.
Barbudans who returned home had to travel to Antigua to cast their votes, but the single seat allocated to the smaller of the two islands could play a significant role in whether Browne retains power, since the minor Barbuda People's Movement aligns with the opposition UPP.
Most of Barbuda's 1,600 residents were evacuated to Antigua after last year's devastating hurricane season, which destroyed about 90 percent of the island, requiring some US$150 million for reconstruction and recovery.
The government of Antigua and Barbuda announced that the country's eight-year-old US$117.8-million International Monetary Fund loan would be fully paid up by Friday with a US$4.4 million payment to the organization.