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NDP to appeal election petitions court decision

NDP to appeal election petitions court decision
OPPOSITION LEADER and president of the New Democratic Party Dr Godwin Friday is flanked by petitioners Lauron “Shearer” Baptiste (left) and Benjamin “Ben” Exeter.

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AS FAR AS the New Democratic Party (NDP) is concerned, the matter of the election petitions is not settled, so the petitioners, with the full support of the Party, have decided to appeal the decision.

“With all due respect to the court, we in the New Democratic Party do not accept and we do not agree with that judgement. Our lawyers have advised that the judgement of the court is flawed in many respects and that there are solid grounds for appeal,” leader of the NDP Dr Godwin Friday told persons at a press briefing yesterday.

On March 21, Justice Stanley John dismissed the election petitions and stated that the Court could find no evidence to support the major issues raised by the petitioners.

The petitioners were Benjamin “Ben” Exeter and Lauron “Shearer” Baptiste who challenged the victory of Sir Louis Straker and Montgomery Daniel in the Central Leeward and North Windward seats respectively.

Justice John said that following normal court procedure, costs will have to be paid to the respondents and will be assessed by the court if not agreed.

Speaking from Democrat House and flanked by Exeter and Baptiste, Friday said that apart from the lawyers and members of his party, the court of public opinion also thinks that Justice Stanley John’s decision has been found wanting and the public is critical of the judgement.

Friday said that after three years of struggle, the matter is not settled.

“The NDP will as always stand firmly behind the petitioners as the parties in the matter and our legal team as the case proceeds to the Court of Appeal. Our lawyers are in the process of preparing the necessary documents, refining the notice of appeal to file the appeal in the court,” Friday announced while adding that as soon as this work is completed the appeal will be filed without delay.

The opposition leader added that when the petitions were filed, the NDP gave their commitment that they would pursue them to the end and that is what they are doing.

“Despite the testimony of many witnesses and the cogent and well-argued submissions…the court ruled against the petitioners. We are profoundly disappointed with that decision and will persevere. The court of appeal has been used successfully by the petitioners before and we will return to that arena again in our continuing and legitimate search for a just result in this matter,” the opposition leader told reporters.

He said he is hopeful that the court of appeal will review the evidence and the jurisprudence and come to a different decision than that of Justice John.

Friday added that while some may say that elections in SVG are close at hand and voters can settle the matter conclusively by voting, they are appealing because they want persons to know definitively, that what happened in the 2015 elections was wrong and would not be allowed to stand.

The opposition leader said they are looking to have the appeal done quickly as they want to have a decision before elections are called.

“The people need to know that what happened in the 2015 elections was wrong and that it will not stand. Moreover, they need the assurance that these illegal and irregular practices by election officials, many of them who were patently partisan, would not be allowed to affect elections in the future,” Friday added.

He is of the opinion that public confidence in the election system needs to be assured so that persons can trust the system to deliver a proper result that reflects the will of the people.

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