Labour files Petitions & calls for fresh elections

Basseterre, 27th June, 2020 (MyVue One day after PAM’s candidate, Ian Patches Liburd, filed his Election Petition, candidates of the opposition, St. Kitts and Nevis Labour Party, on Friday, took similar actions in the High Court in Basseterre.

These were Marcella Liburd, Konris Maynard, Steve Wrensford, Kenneth Douglas, Leon Natta-Nelson and Dr. Terence Drew.

This comes after the election of Friday, 5th June, 2020, when the Labour Party was defeated by the coalition, (PAM, CCM, PLP-Team Unity), by a landslide margin of 9-2, in the 11 member National Assembly.

They were joined by a group of core party supporters who mostly gathered outside the High Court, in the Independence Square, in solidarity with their political leaders.

After exiting the court, around 4:04 p.m., Chairman of the party, Dr. Terrence Drew, revealed that they filed six (6) petitions, to challenge the outcome of the poll in all constituencies in St. Kitts, except East Basseterre and St. Paul’s, (which also includes the villages of Dieppe Bay, Newton Ground, Saddlers and Parsons).

Those were the two constituencies that the party won, in favour of Party Leader, Denzil Douglas and Dr. Geoffrey Hanley.

Drew stated that their actions were driven by what he termed “irregularities and illegalities” that he said happened and “we cannot accept that as a party and as a country.”

He promised the supporters that “it is not over and that the St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party is fighting on your behalf.”

“The St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party has made a step. The step is not just for partisan reasons, but it really deals with (the) democracy of St. Kitts & Nevis. What took place in the last election was a travesty and I don’t think that as a people and as a country we should accept it. That is why we are filing election petitions today,” explained Drew, to a cheering crowd.

Joining his comrades shortly after, Dr. Douglas said that the petitions are being made by six members of the party, who believe, with evidence from the electorate, that they have been cheated out of their place in parliament.

Encouraged by the enthusiastic shouts and applause of supporters, Douglas exclaimed, “So again, we are saying, the elections were fraudulent, the government is illegal, and we want fresh elections in this country.”

“Today, following up on the statement I made, a few days after the elections, that we would have examined reports from the agents of our party, who were engaged in the conduct and the monitoring, observing, of the elections. Our agents report(s), indicate to us that there was massive cheating, during the conduct of the elections,” claimed the Labour Leader.

He also questioned the selection process for the officials who worked in the polling stations, saying that most of them were family of the candidates from the government side.

“They did not represent, the opposing candidates, from the Labour Party, in the same way that they presented the government candidates, in terms of demonstrating how to vote,” charged Douglas.

The former Opposition Leader and former Prime Minister,  also opined that “We have found from the evidence, that there was massive corruption. There was inducement. There was bribery…bribery in a massive way, with assets of the government, assets belonging to you the people, being used to bribe the electorate, the voters, as to vote for them.”

These are serious matters he said, that they believe “could have affected the outcome of the elections.”

Thus, they are asking the court to “look at the evidence, look at the petitions of our candidates and determine whether or not, those who were returned were fairly and justifiably returned, and if not, quash the returns of the Returning Officers. And if we do not have our candidates appointed instead, then we would have a new election,” stated Douglas, to a cheering group of loyal supporters.

But Douglas continued with his harsh words, targeting his favourite political opponent, current Prime Minister, Dr. Timothy Harris, who once served in his (Douglas’) Cabinet.

“The government that is headed by Harris is illegal. It is illegitimate and so we are asking for fair, fair elections, fair election, fair election, to elect new members of our parliament,” shouted Douglas.

However, the veteran politician was not bashful with his criticism, when he also claimed, “We also want to make it clear that is why there were no serious observers here during the elections. He did not want any international observers in the election,” said Dr. Douglas.

“They were prevented from coming because Harris told them if they came they would be quarantined for 14 days and then the elections long gone, after the 14 days,” argued the leader.

Douglas was referring to a mission that was to be brought in from the Organization of American States, OAS, but was eventually canceled.

However, there were two observer groups covering the poll. One drawn from the main civil society organizations in the country, (Chamber of Industry & Commerce, Evangelical Association and Christian Council), and another from CARICOM, which is a political grouping representing governments across the Caribbean.

They, in their reports, classified the election as an expression of the will of the people of St. Kitts & Nevis.

The local NGO group also categorized the voting process was “free and fair, and free from fear.” 

They noted that the activities on polling day “met the commitments and standards which have come to be expected and associated with democratic elections for the process to be described as free and fair and free from fear.”

They also reported that voters were “deeply committed to casting their votes” and the polling was conducted in “an atmosphere of peace and non-violence.”

But they did express concerns over, what they called, several organizational and administrative deficiencies. However, their report qualified those concerns by stating that the cases did not impact the will of the majority of the electorate.

“Such deficiencies did not affect the general outcome of the elections,” said a representative from the NGO coalition.

But the dust has not settled, because the Independent candidate, Jason Thomas, also known as “Grabbament”, and who only received 10 votes in his run in Constituency Number Four, is now saying that since both PAM and Labour have filed petitions, then perhaps, maybe he should do the same. 

Some of the candidates that file petitions: (L-R) Dr. Terrance Drew, Marcella Liburd, Konris Maynard, Kenneth Douglas and Dr. Geoffrey Hanley (St. Kitts Nevis Labour Party Facebook page)
A section of the crowd gathered at the High Court (St. Kitts Nevis Labour Party Facebook page)

Main photo: SKN Labour Party candidates along with supporters outside of the High Court (St. Kitts Nevis Labour Party Facebook page)