This however is not a new issue, given that when Kittitians went to the polls back in 2010, there were also concerns raised about so called “foreign students” getting involved in the local elections when, as the opposition challenged, they were not legally able to do.
Ahead of the upcoming elections, more serious and deliberate steps are being considered and the court will be asked to intervene in the matter, as promised by Dr. Timothy Harris, the leader of the newly formed People’s Labour Party, PLP, which has joined with two other groups, (PAM and CCM), to contest the elections. Harris was addressing opposition supporters on Bank Street.
“We are taking to court the matter to do with those Nigerians and all those persons who have no right by law to register to vote. We shall take the matter to court. And when we are going to court we shall announce it and we would want you to come to give support and show solidarity. This would be a crucially serious election and your leaders are serious about it,” stated Harris last Friday night, (10th January), at the end of a protest march in Basseterre.
One of the lawyers expected to play a role in the case is Jonel Powell who is also an opposition candidate for the People’s Action Movement, (PAM). Powell has been heard at recent public meetings complaining about the number of persons he said with Nigerian names, claiming to be living and registered his constituency, Central Basseterre.
He assured MiyVue.com that the case of the opposition is a strong and just one, saying, “It certainly has a lot of merit. It is basically a challenge of the registration to vote by students who come here to attend the offshore universities. We would have a number of local litigants who would be asking the court to make certain declarations in respect of the legality of these offshore university students who have been allowed to register to vote under the guise of the fact that they are Commonwealth students and commonwealth citizens by extension. We do accept that the constitution provides for Commonwealth citizens who are resident in St. Kitts for 12 months, or more, to register to vote.”
But he argued that the crux of the challenge is that these students are not resident in St. Kitts and Nevis. “They are here for a particular purpose, that is to study and they don’t fall within any of the four categories that are set out by the Immigration Act. Such students are considered ‘permitted Entrants’ as prescribed in a separate section of the same Immigration Act.”
The maximum fine for anyone found engaging in such illegal registration and voting is said to be a fine of EC$30,000.00 or five (5) years in prison.
Powell maintained that the Nigerians and others of similar nature cannot be allowed to what he said “illegally vote”. “It would mean that once again we have persons who have no genuine interest in this country making a determination for us; those who have to stay back, as we have done for the last 18 years, to bear the wrath of a dictatorial prime minister, such as Denzil Douglas.”
No specific date has been set for when they would be heading to the court but they gave the assurance to their supporters that it is imminent.
Editor’s Note: MiYvue.com has since learnt that the necessary court documents were filed Monday afternoon, 13th January, 2014, at approximately 3:00pm by Mr. Powell.