Basseterre, St. Kitts, 27th February, 2023 (MyVue News.com)-Two Election Petitions that were filed in January this year by candidates from the opposition Nevis Reformation Party, (NRP), were on Monday, 27th February, 2023, struck out by the High Court in Charlestown.
The cases were brought by NRP’s losing candidates Jaedee Caines, (against CCM’s Spencer Brand), and Dr. Patricia Bartlette, (against CCM’s Mark Brantley), alleging a number of irregularities during the local elections held on 12th December, 2022.
The constituencies in focus, were St. Paul, which was narrowly won by Brand, and St. John, captured by Brantley.
NRP had invested much hope in a successful outcome.
Had the maters moved forward to trial and had NRP won, the island could have found itself in another election cycle.
However, those hopes have been dashed and the Court has ruled that the Petitions would not advance to the trial stage.
On January, 30th, 2023, the Court, during an online sitting, made it known that submissions from lawyers would be allowed on 15th February, 2023. A decision on the outcome of those submissions was promised for today, 27th February.
Both Petitions were dismissed on technical grounds. In one instance, Caines failed to file her Petition within the 21-day period required and Bartlette failed to serve two important notices as required.
Both Caines and Bartlette, would be required to pay the costs for the legal teams of Brantley and Brand, as well as the Attorney General, Supervisor of Elections and others.
According to some legal observers, these costs could run into hundreds of thousands of dollars. However, the judge has allowed the parties to arrive at a decision, in terms of costs, and failure to do so, costs would be determined by the Court.
When the decision was delivered on Monday, only one NRP candidate, (Jaedee Caines), was present (online), while both CCM successful candidates, were present, (Brantley online and Brand in person).
Lawyers for both sides, however, made appearances in person and online.
This defeat in the Court comes at a time of political disappointment for the NRP.
It recently suspended its Deputy Leader, Cleone Stapleton-Simmonds, eventually leading to her declaring herself an independent member of the Nevis Island Assembly.
This has reduced the number of seats held by the Party in the legislative body, (from 2 to 1).
The in-fighting between Simmonds and her Political Leader, Dr. Janice Daniel-Hodge, has created much turmoil within the organization and could have severe short-term implications.
Photo: L-R Jaeedee Caines, Dr. Ptaricia Bartlette