Antigua-Barbuda former Chairman of Electoral Commission to take Legal Action

The Antigua Observer newspaper reported that, in a press release, Watt said he received two letters within minutes of each other from Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer and Governor General Dame Louise Lake-Tack respectively.

He said the prime minister indicated that Watt was being replaced as chairman because the former attorney general no longer enjoyed the people’s confidence.

The governor general’s letter, according to Watt, quoted verbatim from a letter that Spencer wrote to the head of state on the matter.

Lake-Tack’s letter also informed him that the revocation of his appointment as chairman would not affect his position as a member or ordinary commissioner of the ABEC, Watt said.

He described the prime minister and the governor general’s actions in this regard as “unlawful and contrary to the specific provisions of the Representation of the People Amendment Act.”

Watt said what he found most objectionable was that the prime minister had taken action to remove him as chairman of ABEC right on the heels of him being completely exonerated and vindicated by a judicial tribunal, which the prime minister had asked to be set up with the specific purpose of determining whether or not he should be removed.

He warned that the dictatorial and despotic action by the prime minister cannot and will not stand.

Meanwhile, opposition leader Lester Bird has criticized Lake-Tack and Spencer for removing Watt.

In his Sunday broadcast, Bird said, “It is a violation of a most important part of the law whose purpose to protect you, the citizens and residents of our country, from having your right to elect a government of your choice stolen by the authoritarian prime minister.”

He added, “To give you the protection to stop any prime minister from appointing a political hatchet man to the chairmanship or membership of the Commission, the prime minister is required by the law to consult with the leader of the opposition before recommending any such appointments.”

“In other words,” the Opposition leader said, “these positions are so sensitive to the maintenance of democracy in our country and to protect you from dictatorship, that the law requires consultation between the prime minister and the leader of the opposition.”

“By secretly appointing Juno Samuel — a known political activist, and a notorious opponent of the Labour Party and its supporters — without consulting the leader of the opposition, Spencer has not only flouted the law, but he has scorned your democratic rights,” Bird told listeners.

The former prime minister, who is also an attorney, added that there is no legal basis for Sir Gerald’s removal and both the governor general and the prime minister are aware of this.

 

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