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No election petition filed by NDP

No election petition filed by NDP
President of the New Democratic Party(NDP), Dr Godwin Friday

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As at press time yesterday, November 30, no election petitions challenging the results of the November 5 general elections had been filed by the Opposition.

Yesterday, President of the New Democratic Party(NDP), Dr Godwin Friday, informed SEARCHLIGHT that the party hadn’t done so, and that a statement would be made “soonest” in relation to that.

Friday noted that he could not say for certain when the statement would be made because consultations are still ongoing.

Section 57 of the Representation of the People Act said that “A petition complaining of an undue return or undue election of a member of the House of Assembly”, which is called an election petition, may be presented to the Court by one or more persons.

These include a person claiming to have had a right to be returned at the election in question, and a person alleging himself to have been a candidate at such election.

Section 58 (1) (a) of the Act then stipulates that this must be done within 21 days after the return, made by the returning officer, of the Member in respect of whose election the petition relates.

Following a normal course, the 21-day period stipulated in the Act, within which to file any petitions, should have passed by yesterday, when the Leader of the Opposition informed that no petitions had been filed.

However, the Act has an exception, which is also part of section 58 (1) (a). It states that the petition shall be presented within 21 days, “unless it concerns an allegation of any corrupt practice upon the making of the return of election, specifically alleging a payment of money or other reward to have been made by any member, or on his account, or with his privity since the time of such return, in pursuance or in furtherance of such corrupt practice…” In which case, the time within which to file the petition will be any time within 28 days after the date of such payment.

One legal interpretation of this is that, if included in the petition are allegations of corrupt practices in respect of the matter, the time is extended by seven days.

The indication by the Leader of the Opposition that a statement is to be made comes one week after a former NDP Chairman, Parnell Campbell QC, revealed that he expected the party to make an announcement.

“…The NDP has decided to leave matters there as far as judicial proceedings are concerned and we get on with our lives. They will decide what steps, if any, to take,” he said on November 23 on his television show ‘The Law and You’, while noting that his word shouldn’t be taken as gospel.

After the general elections of November 5, the Unity Labour Party (ULP) was returned to Government with a total of nine seats, over the NDP’s six.

In this election, North Leeward proved to be the most contentious seat, with NDP front man Roland ‘Patel’ Matthews taking a loss to the ULP’s Carlos James, by just one vote. This was after 39 ballots were rejected in the final count. Furthermore, Matthews requested of the presiding officer more time to decide on whether he wanted a second recount, but this was denied.

Additionally, members of the NDP, including the representative for Central Kingstown, St Clair Leacock have alleged that bribery was at play in the elections of November 5.

“Well there’s enough concrete evidence of the allegations that millions of dollars was pumped in the Center and the North. The ‘bag ah money politics’,” Leacock had stated on Nice Radio in the week following the election results.