Following the result, handed down in Charlestown, just after 11:00am on Wednesday, 21st March, 2012, CCM stalwarts demanded of their leaders that a motorcade be staged to rejoice and celebrate over what they termed a glorious victory for democracy.
Justice Lionel Jones, made his decision clear, when he told the litigants today that the 11th July, 2011, election in the constituency of St. John’s, Nevis, was null and void. This means that a new election is required within 3 months. If the governing Nevis Reformation Party appeals the case however, and requests, and is granted a stay of execution, it may take much longer before the people could participate in a bi-election.
Speaking after the verdict was delivered, CCM’s leader, Vance Amory reminded people that the matter centred on names of voters who were removed from the Registration List, particularly in the same constituency of St. John’s where his candidate, Mark Brantley was said to have lost the seat by 14 votes to NRP’s Hensley Daniel.
“I think it was some 200 names that were removed. We hope that those names would have been restored because that was something which has been petitioned for. I think the judge has made a decision. We were just asked to look at the rationale for that. The judgment runs through about 41 pages and combined in four decisions, which I think sums up the whole outcome of this case which has been pending since August, (2011),” said Amory.
Amory said he believed no directive was given by the judge to have the names re-instated, because it would have been based on what we know and why we think the names were removed. It would have given us a level playing field but we are not daunting. I think the people are teaming up, if they have to register again they will do so. But we think based on the state of Nevis and what people are now recognising, this will certainly cause people to re-think their decision. Those persons who had to come home to vote and they haven’t been registered properly; and we knowing that they weren’t registered properly, people will be looking at this much more carefully. Whenever the bi-election is held, I am confident that we will have a reversal of that seat,” hoped the CCM leader.
Amory also admitted that the decision speaks a lot about the current electoral system in St. Kitts and Nevis.
“I think that the decision has to cause those who are in charge of the electoral system, government, electoral commission members, supervisor of election and all other registration officers, to act professionally, honestly and act in accordance with the law. The action taken by the Electoral Commission was not in contravention of the constitution. We are now seeing that the Electoral Commission, in my view, given some teeth.”
The Supervisor of Election had ignored the directives of the Commission, arguing that they had no control over his actions.
Amory said the court has confirmed that the decision of the commission to give instructions for the conduct of the Supervisor of Elections was in accordance with the constitution.
Amory made it clear that he thought it was time for the Supervisor of Elections, Mr. Leroy Benjamin, to resign or be fired, over his involvement in the matter.
“Well I think every person who has been observing the manner in which the supervisor has conducted himself and responded to questions, problems and criticisms, over the past six or seven years, has questioned whether or not he has been true and honest with himself, about the efficiency, professionalism and the integrity of the operations of the electoral system; and himself.”
Amory said he believes that those who are responsible for his appointment ought to consider having him removed, so that the system can continue to function. Questions have been raised and we now have some degree of support, that things need to be changed and in order to change, the mode of operations there, has to be a changed, and so too the personnel.
In terms of what is next for the CCM, Amory said his party has to take the decision soberly. “We have to take stock of what this judgement means; what it means for the party, for the country, integrity of our democracy, the election and electoral offices. “
“We have to look at that and see where, we as opposition, and we as citizens of the country, can so impact a positive change on this whole system, that we do not have a reoccurrence of this kind of behaviour in the election system in St. Kitts and Nevis, or in the Caribbean, or anywhere else; because if the democratic forces are threatened, or weakened or aggravated, then it will threaten our whole system of government, and the welfare and the quality of our development and our stability as well. “
He continued by saying that the country needs to look at these things realistically and see what that means for the total system of government and total system of our country, so that we can have a peaceable, harmonious country; and get rid of all this, in orderly inefficiency. This unprofessional disregard for law and order and the laws of the country shall not continue.
The CCM is planning to host a public meeting to address some of the issues. “We think the issues faced in St. Kitts and Nevis and the way we are at this time, they go beyond this election petition. It goes to the mismanagement; lack of transparency, the total disregard of the people … and it appears as if rulers in their country, elected by the people, to be servants of the people and as trustees of the country, have now believe that they can ignore the laws of the country and the wishes of the people.
In the 2011 island elections, the CCM was said to have won two seats, while NRP was declared winner of three, thereby giving them the opportunity to form the government. With this decision, both parties now have two seats each, until the final decision is made on the third, which is the bone of contention.