Privy Council: SKN Elections On Old Boundaries LK Hewlett Story Updated: February 12 th 2015 at 3:59 pm
The Privy Council this morning (Feb 12) overturned the Court of Appeal’s Feb 5 decision and ruled that St. Kitts and Nevis will go to elections on pre-existing boundaries come Monday (Feb 16). Justices Lord Mance, Lord Kerr, Lord Clarke, Lord Reed, Lord Hodge yesterday heard presentations from Peter Knox QC for the Opposition supported by Douglas Mendes QC, and Lord Peter Goldsmith supported by Anthony Astaphan QC. The issue before the PC was whether the Court of Appeal was correct to uphold the discharge of an interim injunction preventing the adoption of new electoral boundaries by the Prime Minister. The ruling handed down is as follows: “After consideration of the Appellants’ appeal against the Order made by the Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal, sitting as the Court of Appeal for St. Christopher and Nevis on the 5 th February 2015, and having heard submissions on behalf of the parties yesterday on the 11th February 2015, first, the Board will humbly advise her Majesty that the appeal should be allowed.” The Justices set aside High Court Justice Carter’s Jan 27 injunction discharge and the Feb 5 Court of Appeal decision to uphold the discharge. The Council Lords ruled that the interim injunction granted by Justice Carter of the 16 th January be restored. The parties agreed in the Court of Appeal order on Feb 5 to use whatever voters list the Privy Council determined was appropriate for the elections come Monday. The Privy Council ruled, “…it is determined and ordered that firstly, the list to be used in said election is and shall be that existing prior to and apart from the proclamation bearing the reference Number 2 of 2015, purportedly issued and published by the Governor General in Extraordinary Gazette Number Three Bearing the date 16 th January 2015. “Second, any effect which the said proclamation would continue otherwise to have whether in relations to any other election or otherwise is hereby suspended until further Order.” Questions regarding the said proclamation and those of cost were reserved. Spontaneous celebrations broke out across the islands and Opposition supporters created impromptu mini motorcades in Cayon, Sandy Point and downtown Basseterre. Team Unity, led by Dr. Timothy Harris, issued a statement, saying the Privy Council ruled comprehensively and finally in their favor. “This decision establishes once and for all that the election on Monday must be conducted on the existing boundaries and not any of the “new” boundaries that Denzil Douglas wanted to introduce to try to steal this election; it shows that the actions of Douglas and his cohorts were politically immoral, illegal and unconstitutional.” Dr. Harris is quoted as saying, “Our only intent was to ensure we continued the fight for democracy, justice and fairness. The people of St Kitts and Nevis deserved no less. We call on the electoral authorities to respect the rule of law, so that the people of St. Kitts and Nevis can participate in this election without any further election illegalities or irregularities. We remind them that St. Kitts and Nevis is a democracy and not a dictatorship.” Premier Vance Amory said today could be termed a red letter day for St. Kitts and Nevis for the citizens. He said the Privy Council had done the nation a great service by setting aside the ruling of Justice Carter and that of the OECS Court of Appeal. “A red letter day for justice in our country and we the people of St. Kitts and Nevis can show appreciation for the courage displayed by the court in rectifying the grave error and injustice which, we believe, was perpetrated on us by the Labour/NRP Government on 16th January, 2015. It is a great day for us and for Democracy, justice has prevailed. It is a triumph for our law-abiding values; values that are precious and priceless. It is a vindication of everything that is right and just and perseverance of those who sought that justice by appealing to the court to rectify what transpired in St. Kitts, in the parliament on the 16th of January 2015,” he said. Minister of Health Marcella Liburd expressed her feelings on the ruling on social media. “The opposition has a history of running to the court, even to challenge election results! Yet they crawl around offending our ears with their misuse of the word democracy. Well now the court has had its say, it is time for you, the people, to have your say at the polls! Come Monday, go forth and do the right thing – vote for real progress, vote for the permanent betterment of the people of our federation,” she posted. Prime Minister Dr. Denzil Douglas announced he would address the nation shortly.