Powell: Election officials violating injunction

Jonel Powell, political candidate for Central Basseterre and deputy leader of the People’s Action Movement, said the Electoral Office has issued an Annual Voters List based upon the new boundaries that are under Court ordered injunction. 

The injunction prohibits the Electoral Commission, the supervisor of elections and any of their agents from making any use of the new boundaries until the relevant appeal matters have been heard.

“It is a violation of the Court order and the injunction of the Court of Appeal,” said Powell in speaking with MiyVue.com.

According to Powell, he had made an attempt to obtain the voters list for Central Basseterre from the Electoral Office and was unsuccessful.

“I was informed by the office manager, Mr. Oliver Knight, that the list was unavailable. I stated that the law required it,” Powell informed.

“The Court’s order is in respect of a boundaries matter, and the list that the law says should be published is up to 31stDecember 2014, which is a month before the government attempted to change the boundaries, and as such, it must be on the basis of the status quo as of the 31st December 2014,” Powell stated.

He went on to explain that he called the supervisor of elections on 2nd February requesting access to the annual register of voters for constituency #2 but was again unsuccessful in obtaining the document.

“His response to me was, ‘It is unavailable.’ I again quoted the law, and indicated he has a legal duty to publish this list by 31st January. His response again was that it was unavailable,” Powell said.

The National Assembly’s Elections Act provides that there would be an annual register of voters, as of the 31stDecember every year, published no later than the 31st January of the following year, with provisions for objections to that list, and the hearing of objections and appeals in Court.

According to the Central Basseterre PAM candidate, options are being reviewed, but stated that the electoral law is being broken.

“The supervisor of elections is clearly in breach of the law once again, and I go on to say that he continues to violate the order of the Court and the injunction put in place by the Court of Appeal, as we received on Friday 29th official notice signed by him of the places of nomination for the various constituencies on Nomination Day, which is 6th Friday. The place for nomination for constituency seven is the Cayon Police Station, which would be based on the proposed new boundaries, yet another violation of the Court of Appeal order and injunction,” Powell revealed.

In addition, the PAM candidate indicated that the document was faxed from an unexpected source.

“We found it very strange that the official notice, coming from the supervisor of elections, came by way of fax from the Office of the Prime Minister,” Powell indicated.

As to what could be done at this stage of the situation, Powell said that the Court could be an option, but there were practical limitations to consider.

“There is always a remedy in the Court, but the reality is that Nominations Day is on Friday, 6th February. It is unlikely that we can get the necessary Court remedy, although we have that option we can try. We are appealing to the supervisor of elections and the Electoral Commission to follow the law, to do what is right under the law, and have the list published,” said Powell, who explained also that the list was needed to object to persons who are not properly registered.

With the Court of Appeal hearing due to take place, from 10 a.m. on 4th February, lawyers of the opposition parliamentarians that include members of the Concerned Citizens Movement, the People’s Action Movement and the People’s Labour Party, would be seeking to add evidence of the injunction breaches and failure to follow the country’s laws, when the Court of Appeal meets in Castries, St. Lucia.



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