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Williams heads new boundaries commission

Williams heads new boundaries commission

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With General Elections Constitutionally due in St. Vincent and the Grenadines in 2006, the appointment of the Constituency Boundaries Commission is set to take on added significance at this time.

The three-member commission took the oath of office at Government House on January 27, accepting the responsibility of reviewing the 15 constituency boundaries into which St. Vincent and the Grenadines is divided. {{more}}

The Commission includes: Aldric Williams, appointed as Chairman by the Governor General in his own deliberate judgment, Arthur Williams, appointed upon the advice of the Prime Minister and Selwyn Jones, appointed in accordance with the advice of the Leader of the Opposition.

Aldric Williams served as a member of the Royal St. Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force from November 1958 to February 1994 when he retired as Superintendent of Police. He also worked as Security Advisor to the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Port Authority for the period July 2002 to December 2004.

Arthur Williams has been practicing law since 1969. He held the post of Attorney General under the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Labour Party administration from 1974 to 1983 and was the Parliamentary Representative for West St. George for 10 years.

Selwyn Jones assumed duties as Supervisor of Elections in January 1996 and held that position until he retired in July 2003. Before that he worked in the Ministry of Education for 16 years where he performed duties as a Qualified Assistant Teacher, Organizer and Project Manager.

A Constituency Boundaries Commission is appointed under the provisions of Section 32 of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Constitution.

The last Population and Housing Census was conducted here in May 2001, hence the appointment of this Commission. The reports from that census put the total population at 106,253 – 53,626 males and 52,627 females. However, Chief Statistician Selwyn Allen says these figures account for only those persons who were available and responded to the enumerators.

AConstituency Boundaries Commission was appointed on June 2, 1994. It comprised George A. Phillips as chairman, Othneil Sylvester and Alphonso Dennie, with Judith Leigertwood as secretary. It received written suggestions from 21 persons including the then Prime Minister Sir James Mitchell and Leader of the Opposition at that time, the Hon. Vincent Beache.

The Commission presented its report on December 13, 1995 and recommended that the boundaries of nine of the 15 constituencies be realigned.

Chairman of the newly appointed CommissionAldrick Williams said his first mission will be to get the other members together so that they could go through the census report. He sees his appointment as head of the review team as “a great responsibility,” and hopes that their work would satisfy the Constitution and people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. It is not certain when the Commission will begin its work in earnest as arrangements for office space are still being made.

In his address Governor General His Excellency Sir Frederick Ballantyne said he could vouch for the excellent reputation and integrity of all the members of the Commission. He reminded them that although they were nominated by the government and the opposition, their duties are non-partisan and that they should produce a document that could stand up to the scrutiny of all Vincentians. The Governor General challenged them to present a document and recommendations that are based on facts and not emotions.

Leader of the Opposition and Parliamentary Representative for East Kingstown the Hon. Arhnim Eustace said that although it is constitutionally due, this constituency boundaries review comes at a time when there are speculations about elections. Hence, “it is very important for all concerned to pay particular attention to the work of the commission as whatever proposals are presented would have an impact on the elections.” With East Kingstown being one of the constituencies which boundaries were realigned during the last review, Eustace said, “I hear that they want to target my constituency but that is left to be seen…but I am comfortable.” Eustace won that seat in the last General Elections by 27 votes.

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