Court Rules that Skerrit was Legally Elected as Prime Minister

The ruling comes more than two months after the case was heard in the High Court in Roseau, and almost two years to the day that the petitions were filed. Following the 2009 general elections, the United Workers Party (UWP) filed several petitions concerning the conduct of the elections.

The two other petitions which were previously denied by the Courts had to do with denials of the UWP’s access to state media throughout the election campaign; and, the validity of the declared results for the constituency of La Plaine, where the incumbent Ron Green, leader of the UWP, was defeated by two votes following an official recount on the morning after the elections.

In the earlier August 2010 ruling where the other petitions were dismissed, Justice Russell Thomas agreed for the petition regarding the legality of Skerrit and St Jean to contest the election to “proceed to trial on the sole issue of disqualification for nomination and election…”

During the most recent deliberations, the court heard from the plaintiff lawyers that prime minster Roosevelt Skerrit had confirmed that he was a citizen of France, but that such citizenship was attained by virtue of his mother being a French citizen, and not by his own act.

They however argued that what disqualified him to be a member of Parliament was that at the time of the elections he was in possession of a French passport by virtue of his own act, which was an “acknowledgment of allegiance to a foreign power or state”.

This according to the lawyers was a violation of Article 32 1. A of the Constitution, which expressly states that “a person shall not be qualified to be elected or appointed as a Representative or Senator (hereinafter in this section referred to as a member) if he- is by virtue of his own act, under any acknowledgement of allegiance, obedience or adherence to a foreign power or state.’

In making her ruling, Judge Thom disagreed with the arguments of the plaintiff ruling that both Skerrit and St Jean were not in violation of section 32 1. A of the Constitution and that at the time of the 2009 General elections they had no allegiance to another country despite their being in possession of passports issued by a ‘foreign state’.

In responding to the verdict, counsel for the plaintiffs say they may consider an appeal.

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