This action became necessary when High Court Judge, Lionel Jones, last week (Wednesday 21st March, 2012), declared the St. John’s Constituency seat, held in the Nevis Island Assembly by Mr. Hensley Daniel, of the ruling Nevis Reformation Party, NRP, to be vacant. Justice Jones decision came as a result of the case that was brought by opposition St. John’s Constituency candidate for the Concerned Citizens Movement, CCM, Mark Brantley.
Brantley contended that due to certain irregularities that occurred during last year’s poll, it was necessary to declare the election null and void and the seat vacant. The judge agreed. Central to Brantley’s contention was that over 200 persons, who were legally registered, had their names removed from the Voter’s List, despite not having the proper procedures being followed to do.
Brantley had also argued that his party had been denied the right to have its election campaign events covered by the government controlled Nevis News Cast and that this was a denial of his fundamental right to freedom of expression.
Since the decision of Judge Jones to declare the seat vacant the political parties in Nevis and their supporters have been arguing over the legality of the Island Administration, the continued operations in office of Hensley Daniel and the urgent need to return to the polls for a bi-election. With the seat declared vacant, some argued that with both CCM and NRP having 2 seats each, the government had lost its mandate and majority to govern.
Last year’s election saw CCM being declared winner of 2 seats and NRP 3.
However, the NRP Administration countered those charges by stating that all required procedures had not been completed that would have made the seat officially vacant, and as such, Mr. Daniel had all legal right to continue his duties as a member of the Island Assembly and also as a Minister of government.
These actions said Nevis Premier, Joseph Parry, included certain measures that should have been taken by the Governor General.
After the Appeals Court Judge, sitting in St. Kitts this morning, made his ruling to grant the Stay of Execution, Premier Parry addressed the matter in the local media.
He said, in the absence of a Stay of Execution, there was no direction from the Governor General, and no direction from the Nevis House of Assembly. The procedure would have been, that when the judge would have given his decision, (last week to declare the seat vacant), it was necessary to have that ruling certified, and his ruling passed to the Governor General. The Governor General in turn would have contacted the President of the Nevis House of Assembly, and the President would have called a meeting and announced that the seat was now empty and the election was null and void. That was never done, explained Parry, and the House of Assembly (meeting) was never called; the President of the Assembly was never informed, to my knowledge, and therefore Mr. Hensley Daniel continued rightly so as the representative for St. john’s and as a Minister, stated Parry.
Parry is of the view that the democratic process must be allowed to continue to work its way to a sensible conclusion.
Meanwhile CCM’s Mark Brantley said that he and his team agreed to allow the Stay of Execution when the judge convened today to determine the matter.