Michael Manley, who once courted Cuba but now seeks U.S. support, returned to Jamaica's helm Friday after trouncing Prime Minister Edward Seaga in elections marred by gunfire and charges of fraud.
With 65 percent of the ballots counted, the government-run Jamaica Broadcasting Corp. network declared Manley's party the winner of at least 34 of Parliament's 60 seats. Seaga's party had taken eight seats and 18 seats were undecided.The party winning a majority of parliamentary seats forms the government for a five-year term. Seaga's party now holds 60 seats.
The latest returns Friday showed Manley's left-leaning People's National Party leading Seaga's right-of-center Jamaica Labor Party by a 57 percent to 43 percent margin, or 429,680 votes to 324,486.
The balloting was Jamaica's first nationally contested election since 1980, when an estimated 700 people were killed in political violence over a nine-month campaign.
The killing of a pregnant homemaker Thursday raised to at least 12 the number of people killed in politically related violence since the campaign opened Jan. 15. Seaga said Glenna Williams was shot a minute before he arrived to vote in Kingston.
The campaign had been shortened to just over three weeks because of fears of violence at the height of the island's tourist season. Tourism, the main industry, has bounced back after Hurricane Gilbert raked the island on Sept. 12, killed 45 people and left about $1 billion in damage.
Across the Caribbean island, about 10,000 police and soldiers were deployed to maintain order at more than 6,000 polling stations, but skirmishes broke out.
Many polling stations closed early because of violence, and soldiers fired shots and used tear gas in many instances to break up arguments.
Attacks were confined mainly to slums in Kingston, the capital.
Manley was prime minister from 1972 to 1980. His government then embraced Cuba, alarming the United States and foreign investors. But he has moderated his views and today seeks a "new beginning" with the Bush administration.
"I am wiser, more experienced man," he said in a recent interview.