The electoral fight in Antigua & Barbuda continues in earnest as the Chairman of the ruling United Progressive Party (UPP), Leon Chaku Symister has indicated in an interview with The Warren Cassell Show on ZJB Radio, that Parliament in the twin island state, will be dissolved by the end of this week, April 25, 2014.
MNI Alive Global Caribbean Media gained access to the interview with Mr Symister and The Warren Cassell show. In the conversation, the UPP Chairman revealed that an actual date for elections has not yet been set. This has been blamed on two electoral matters before the Court of Appeal, filed by the main Opposition, Antigua & Barbuda Labour Party (ABLP).
According to Chaku, decisions are expected on Monday, April 28th, on these two matters before the Court of Appeal, which will likely impact the upcoming elections.
The issues under contention pertain to claims made by the Opposition, ABLP, where they allege that people on the voter’s list of Antigua & Barbuda were being deregistered. This allegation centres on a change in the laws with regards to Commonwealth citizens being eligible for citizenship of Antigua & Barbuda. The change in law was extended from 3 years to 7 years residency before citizenship could be acquired. This matter and specifically, the charge of voter de-registration came up in the High Courts as a legal challenge from the ABLP, but the Judge ruled in favour of the incumbent UPP, stating there was no evidence of de-registration. The Court dismissed the case.
The other matter under contention had to do with a recommendation from Antigua’s Boundaries Commission to make the constituencies in the twin island more even, as there was an apparent disproportionate number of voters in some constituencies over others. According to Chaku, the ABLP also took issue with this and took the matter to Court with claims of this process being unfair. Also allegations of gerrymandering by the UPP were made by the ABLP.
The Court again ruled in UPP's favour stating that that no such claims as brought before the Court by the ABLP could be cited. An appeal by the ABLP was thus launched on this matter additionally.
The UPP Chairman indicated that depending on the outcome of the rulings that are expected on Monday, on the matter of the boundaries ruling, it could possibly end up going to the Privy Council, as a Court of last resort, considering the Constitutional issues involved.
Both decisions are presently stationed as the determining factors for when the election date will be called for 2014 on Antigua and Barbuda. The end of this week when parliament dissolves will begin the ticking of the 90 day clock before the people of Antigua decide whether to stick with the UPP or usher in new leadership.
Either way, UPP Chairman Chaku has stated that his party is ready to leave the ABLP where they belong; which is according to him; “in the opposition”
Listen to the full interview with UPP Chairman, Leon "Chaku" Symister below:
Jeevan Robinson is Founder and Editor-in-Chief of MNI Alive: Global Caribbean Media. A Marketing, News & Information (MNI) media house. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org