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Americas

Jamaica's first-ever woman prime minister back in office

media People's National Party leader Portia Simpson-Miller in a Kingston polling … Reuters/A Gilbert Bellamy

Jamaica’s left-leaning People’s National Party (PNP) has beaten the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) in a general election that sees the country’s first-ever woman prime minister, Portia Simpson Miller, returning to office.

Preliminary results late Thursday showed the PNP winning 41 out of 63 seats on a 75 per cent turnout.

Although one person was killed and two wounded at a JLP event on Thursday night, the election was mostly free of the violence and fraud that once characterised Jamaican politics.

Gun crime has been a major problem for Jamaica.

Reggae giant Bob Marley was shot and injured in 1976 in what many believed was an attack motivated by his support for the PNP.

"You will know everything. We will never hide anything from you. Now you have a government you can trust," Miller told supporters as it became clear that her party had won.

She promised a "partnership with you, the Jamaican people, a partnership with the private sector, the media and civil society".

After conceding defeat, Holness, who was the country’s youngest-ever prime minister at 39, declared that the JLP will start campaigning for the next election, due in five years time, “tomorrow morning”.

Miller became Jamaica’s first female prime minister in 2006 but narrowly lost an election, which ended 17 years of PNP rule, in 2007 on a turnout of 60 per cent.

Holness became its youngest-ever prime minister on 23 October this year after Bruce Golding stepped down under pressure from the fallout from his government’s fight against the extradition of Christopher “Dudus” Coke, allegedly the leader of a gang linked to the JLP.

Coke, who is accused of gun-running and drug-trafficking, was arrested in 2010, a month after an assault on a Kingston slum that left more than 70 dead.

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