High Court to Hear Matter in Removal of Nevisians from Voters List

According to CCM officials, whereas it was first stated that 244 names were removed, evidence is now emerging that the figure is fast approaching 300. Most of these persons, according to the claims of the CCM were Nevisians who voted in the General Elections just last year, on 25th January, 2010. None of these persons, said the CCM ever requested for their registration status to be amended in any manner.

As a matter of fact, contends the CCM, those whose names were removed, have still not been formally told by the Electoral Office that their names have been deleted, nor have they been provided with an explanation.

It has also been disclosed by the CCM that many voters on the island, who are suspected to be supporting the opposition, were sent letters by the Electoral Office in Charlestown, requesting them to appear for a hearing regarding objections to the validity of their registration. The only problem, said the CCM, these notices were received by the voters, the day after the scheduled hearing.

Even Opposition Leader and former Premier Vance Amory along with prominent lawyer and former legal adviser to the Nevis Island Administration, Mr. Ted Hobson, were amongst those whose names were said to have been taken off the list and to whom letters were sent to appear in defense of their registration.

However, both Amory and Hobson have recently confirmed that their names have re-appeared on the last list received from the Electoral Office.

Reports indicate that there has been much secrecy surrounding the final and official Voters List for the elections, to be held in less than a week. Though such a list has always been a public document, available for perusal by anyone in the country, not even the media have been afforded the opportunity to examine, nor obtain a copy of the list.

Yet, there are many other persons who voted last year and still possess their valid Voters Identification Cards, as issued by the Electoral Office, but still are uncertain if their names are listed. Many of such voters have however, indicated in very strong terms, that it is their intention to turn out on Monday 11th July, 2011, to vote in the elections.

Recognizing that it was not getting any assistance from the Electoral Office and the Supervisor of Elections, Mr. Leroy Benjamin, the CCM wrote to the Electoral Commission, which is the sole body with constitutional authority to direct and supervise the affairs and activities of Mr. Benjamin, but to date the names have not been re-instated on the list.

The Commission wrote to the Supervisor, directing that the names be placed back on the list, but instead of compliance, there was much defiance by the Supervisor, who demanded of the Commission, that they, his bosses, withdraw their letter and further stating that they, (the Commission), has no authority to direct him.

However, the provisions of the constitution, do in fact clearly state that they, the Commission, are the only ones with the power and legal right to instruct the Supervisor.

On Monday 4th July, the CCM took a further step, this time to seek the intervention of the High Court. According to Mr. Ted Hobson, while speaking Tuesday night on local radio, it is the expectation that the matter will be addressed with the greatest urgency, by the Court, given that the poll is scheduled in 5 days time.

 

There has been swift reaction to the Court challenge by the leader of the ruling Nevis Reformation Party and current Premier, Mr. Joseph Parry, who said in a public meeting on Tuesday night, 5th July, 2011, at Cherry Gardens, that “I understand that today Brantley, Amory and the CCM have applied for an injunction to stop the election. While I respect the constitutional right of access to the Court, such access must come with responsibilities. Brantley, Amory, and the CCM after insulting the integrity of the High Court with their contemptuous attack on Justice Redhead, are now, in a desperate attempt to escape from a CCM political hiding on Monday, trying to drag the Court into the political arena.”

“It was the great former Chief Justice Sir Dennis Byron who in a Court of Appeal decision from Antigua issued a stern warning to desperate politicians. He said politicians must not play political games with the Court; they must not drag the Court into the political arena. But we are not dropping our guard. We have copies of the applications,” continued Parry.

 

Mr. Parry told supporters, “Our team of leading Attorneys, Dr. Henry Browne, Sylvester Anthony and Anthony Astaphan, are looking at the papers as we speak. Their initial reaction to the papers, tell me a million stories about the CCM but I can’t say more at this point, except this: If necessary, we will seek to intervene in the applications to ensure that the integrity of the elections and election process are fully and absolutely protected! We will not allow the process to be hijacked by Pirates of the Caribbean disguised in the colours of CCM who want by all means to avoid defeat on Monday! Be not afraid, we will prevail!!”

This is the same team of lawyers that has been used by the Labour party Administration of Dr. Denzil Douglas, Prime Minister of St. Kitts & Nevis, in similar matters addressed leading up to and after the last General Elections of 2010.


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