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Bahamas votes for prime minister amid corruption allegations

© AFP | About 180,000 people are registered to cast votes in the Bahamas' election. Supporters of the Free National Movement (FNM) are shown here gathered at a polling station in Nassau

NASSAU (BAHAMAS) (AFP) - 

Voters in the Bahamas are going to the polls Wednesday in closely-contested general elections amid double-digit unemployment and with the incumbent prime minister dogged by scandals.

The election pits the party of Prime Minister Perry Christie -- a veteran politician from the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) -- against his main opponent, Hubert Minnis of the Free National Movement (FNM), a physician.

The election has been overshadowed by the long-delayed opening of a $4.2 billion mega-resort called Baha Mar.

The spectacular failure of the Fyre music festival -- which stranded partygoers who paid as much as $100,000 to attend -- is also a factor in the voting.

Critics of the 73-year-old Christie, who is finishing his second non-consecutive term as prime minister, say the time has come for him to retire.

"I support the FNM 100 percent, because I feel Christie was not doing a good job in the five years we gave him," Nassau resident Jmeail Dames said of the prime minister's current term.

Christie prompted condemnation earlier this year when he denied corruption accusations by raising his middle finger to reporters.

His education minister, Jerome Fitzgerald, is embroiled in controversy over a shady multimillion-dollar business allegedly seeking contracts from the Baha Mar resort, which is controlled by Chinese investors.

Minnis is campaigning on a platform of change, seeking to implement term limits on the prime minister and promote "Bahamian ownership in the economy," according to his website.

The island archipelago heavily depends on tourism and foreign investment into resorts and other attractions.

A Christie win would benefit Chinese investors, while US investors could benefit if the FNM takes the reins, Business Insider wrote.

Polls opened at 8 am (1200 GMT), with more than 180,000 people registered to vote in 39 constituencies across the country.

Voting end at 6 pm (2000 GMT), with unofficial results expected around 10 pm (0000 GMT).

© 2017 AFP