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PM still confident that referendum will go on

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The SVG Green Party has filed a constitutional motion in the High Court challenging the process by which the proposed Referendum Act is to be conducted.{{more}}

The action, which is being brought against Supervisor of Elections Sylvia Findlay and Attorney General Judith Jones-Morgan, specifically challenges the method of voting to be adopted.

The court documents obtained by SEARCHLIGHT state that the Supervisor of Elections failed to carry out her duties under the Constitution by failing to exercise her discretion in not allocating a symbol to denote the ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ vote.

In his grounds for application, O’Neal states that in the Kenyan Constitutional Referendum in 2005, the “Banana” symbol represented the “Yes” vote and the “Orange” symbol represented the “No” vote. Similarly in a referendum held in Guyana in 1978, the symbols used to represent the “Yes” and “No” vote were the “House” and “Mouse” respectively.

The court document states “There exists no empirical or statistical evidence to support any claim that St. Vincent and the Grenadines is a literate country to fully justify the omission of symbols on the Referendum Election Ballot as set out in Act No. 14 of 2009…. The omission of symbols on the ballot paper constitutes a gross violation of the citizen’s rights to vote and is a deliberate attempt to confuse the electorate from exercising their free will and a violation of their constitutional rights…”

O’Neal is also contending that Findlay-Scrub failed to respond positively to previous letters he sent requesting her to perform her duties under the Constitution and Representation of the People’s Act 1982.

In a letter dated September 23, Emery Robertson, acting on behalf of his client, wrote to the Supervisor of Elections

seeking clarifications on matters relating to designated symbols to be used. The writ went on to explain that the Claimant’s concerns were not addressed in a response sent by the Supervisor of Elections on September 30, and that a request was then made to have the issue dealt with within a 7-day period.

However, Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves told SEARCHLIGHT that he is not at all worried about the court action taken by O’Neal and the SVG Green Party and that there will be a referendum come November 25.

“I am confident that we are proceeding with the referendum,” Gonsalves said.

While declining to comment further on the matter, the prime minister said that he has looked at the constitutional motion filed by O’Neal on October 23 this year and was being advised by lawyers.

“The attorney general has advised me that she has told Mr. Parnell Campbell Q.C. to represent her and the Supervisor of Elections,” Gonsalves said.

O’Neal also refrained from making a comment.

Right up to press time, the Supervisor of Elections could not be reached for comment. (DD)

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