The issue of foreign students being allowed to vote will come up soon, according to lawyer Jonel Powel, the People’s Action Movement’s constituency #2 candidate.
In giving an update on the Court matter, Powell indicated that the case is slated to be heard this month, February, however, there is a chance that the judge might not be on island to hear the court case.
“The status of that case is that it has been scheduled to be heard, I think sometime next week, although I am not sure it will come off. I understand that the judge is off-island, and her schedule has been adjusted, but it is scheduled to be heard this month,” explained Powell.
He pointed out that there is a misconception out in public domain that is being peddled by “Marcella Liburd” and the “Prime Minister”, which according him, needs to be corrected. He was referring to claims that the opposition does not want Nigerians to vote in the upcoming election. Powell explained that the issue is not about Nigerians, but about students with a specific immigration classification being allowed to vote.
“There is no court case against Nigerians. There is no issue by the opposition in terms of Nigerians. What we have is an issue with students of overseas or offshore universities studying. Whether you are Nigerian, Indian, Pakistani or Canadian, our issue is that you ought not to be allowed to vote if you are attending these offshore universities,” Powell stated.”
Powell emphasized that the constitution speaks to the position of students voting in St. Kitts and Nevis.
“The law in relation to voting is that you must be 18 years and older. You must be a Commonwealth citizen, and you must be resident in St Kitts and Nevis for 12 consecutive months prior to the date of registration. Although these persons maybe 18 years or older, and they may be Commonwealth citizens, we are contending that they are not resident. Resident being, the Immigration Act sets out that four categories of who are residents, and these students do not fall in anyone of the four categories,” he pointed out.
He pointed out that the Immigration Act specifically states that they are not residents, but they are ‘permitted entrants’, solely for the purpose of studying… So, the law is very clear with their status,” Powell declared.
He said that the Team Unity alliance would continue to advocate that the students are not permitted to vote, if the case is heard before or after elections.
Powell emphasized, also, that Team Unity is “in no way threating their (students) security”, but, he is urging them to follow the law and according to him, they have “been allowed to illegally register to vote”.