According to information reaching MiyVue.com, instructions were given by the Electoral Commission to Leroy Benjamin Sr. – Supervisor of Elections – that the Commission, “in accordance with the National Assembly Election (Amendment) Act 2007 as amended has determined that names of Voters who have been reconfirmed and issued with appropriate National Identification Cards (NID) shall remain on the Voters List as at January 2011.” The directive was give via latter dated 26th May, 2011.
Mr. Benjamin, in response to said letter, issued correspondence dated 2nd June, 2011, in which he made reference to a meeting which he said involved the Commission and himself. He said during that meeting, head of the Commission, Hesketh Benjamin, indicated that the Commission will “withdraw and/or rescind the said letter of 26th May 2011”. He further noted that he has yet to receive that withdrawal or rescission and while he awaits such, “the Registration Officers continue to carry on their duties and functions under the law”.
A follow-up letter issued by the Supervisor of Elections repeated this position as expressed in the 2nd June correspondence but added that he solicited and received advice from Senior Crown Counsel Mr. Arudranauth Gossai and that he is also cognizant of the fact that the Commission can oversee the performance of the duties and functions of the Supervisor of Elections and not to give directives.
He said that in light of the provisions of the Constitution in Sections 33 and 34, neither he as Supervisor of Elections nor the Electoral Commission “has any authority whatsoever to interfere and/or direct the functions of the Registration Officers in the exercise of their functions under the National Assembly elections Act, Cap. 2.01 and/or the Regulations made thereunder…”
“I am therefore of the opinion that the Electoral Commission has no authority to decide and instruct that ‘names of Voters who have been reconfirmed and issued with appropriate National Identification Cards (NID) shall remain on the Voters List as at January 2011.’ The registration officers must continue to exercise their functions in accordance with the provisions.”
MiyVue.com spoke with Leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition and member of the Concerned Citizens Movement, Mark Brantley, concerning this matter and he indicated that this turn of events is a methodical attempt to remove the names of perceived Concerned Citizens Movement (CCM)-supporters from the list. He informed that while he does not have an exact figure of the number of persons who are affected, he has 30 plus examples, one of which is CCM leader, Vance Amory.
“The situation starts from the Constitution. The Constitution sets out what the role of the Supervisor and the role of the Electoral Commission are. The Electoral Commission has clearly given some directions to the Supervisor, the Supervisor in turn has said he has taken advice from the Attorney General and he did not attempt to accede to that to those directions. There appears to be a standoff between these two Constitutional bodies and the Attorney General is in the middle of it but obviously he has a conflict of interest because his view is the NRP view, he is a candidate. So that is where the dilemma really lies.
“…In the mean time, the people who are being affected are the voters, the legitimate people living and working in Nevis who are being summarily removed including the Honourable Vance Amory, the leader of our party. So it’s a systematic attempt to purge the voter’s list that people they perceive are supporters of our party. I don’t have a hard number for that I would tell you that in my possession, I have about 30 or 35 examples but I think it is far more widespread than that. I can’t give you a precise figure. We are hearing that it might be scores of individuals.”
Brantley said the situation needs to be resolved in both the court of justice and the court of public opinion.
“It is not a standoff that involved CCM, it is a standoff that involves people, ordinary people who are being denied the right the vote. There is obviously the prospect of going to the court, that is the court of law but I feel there is also the need to go to the court of public opinion and to seek the people’s the views on these matters because we have our constitution under attack.”