Published On: Wed, Mar 8th, 2017

A victory for St Vincent’s opposition in election challenge

goodwinKINGSTOWN  – The governing Unity Labour Party in St Vincent and the Grenadines is preparing itself for election challenges to be heard in the High Court after the Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal reinstated two election petitions filed by the main opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) yesterday.

And while the Opposition appears to be quietly celebrating the ruling in its favour, Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonslaves said “it was no political victory” for his opponents, declaring that his government was not rattled by the outcome.

“I accept the decision of the Court of Appeal. We can centre our minds on dealing with the matter before the High Court,” he said, while speaking on Star FM, the ULP’s radio station yesterday.

The Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal deemed the decision by Justice Brian Cottle to throw out the NDP’s petitions as bias.

It ordered that the judgment made last April be set aside and the cases be remitted to the High Court to be heard by a different judge expeditiously.

The NDP is challenging the results in the Central Leeward and North Windward constituencies in the December 2015 general elections.

The party contends that its candidates, Ben Exeter and Lauron “Sheara” Baptiste are the rightful winners of the seat and the court should order fresh elections in those constituencies.

A ruling in favour of NDP would affect the balance of power in Kingstown since the ULP holds eight of the 15 parliamentary seats and the NDP the remaining seven.

Dr Gonsalves remains confident that his party has a solid case and the petitions will be defeated when the matter resumes in the High Court.

“So, I [am] not worried. I am not at all, “ he said adding, “ They prevailed twice before Justice Cottle and I have no doubt that they will prevail again.”

The Prime Minister however made it clear that in the event the Government loses the petitions, he would seek a fresh mandate from the electorate instead of calling by-elections in the disputed seats.

A few days ago, NDP founder and former prime minister urged the opposition party to end its challenge to the election results, saying that elections are won at the polls not in the courts.

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