Categorized | Local, News, Regional

Kamla Persad Bissessar Wins Round ONE in Election Dispute

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Former prime minister Kamla Persad Bissessar

In spite of a CMC report dated September 14, 2015 which said “Former prime minister Kamla Persad Bissessar has hinted at not pursuing a legal challenge to the results of the September 7 general elections, saying members of the coalition People’s Partnership “will do our patriotic duty as members of the Opposition”, a later report out of Trinidad says, “the party has announced that they were granted leave to file 6 election petitions to challenge the validity of the election process…”

In a statement issued by the United National Congress (UNC) on September 18, the party has announced that they were granted leave to file 6 election petitions to challenge the validity of the election process in 6 critical constituencies namely:

§  ·        La Horquetta/Talparo
§  ·        Tunapuna
§  ·        St. Joseph
§  ·        Toco/Sangre Grande
§  ·        San Fernando West
§  ·        Moruga/Tableland

Senior High Court Judge Madam Justice Mira Dean- Amourer made the order granting leave in all 6 matters at around 7pm in a special late night sitting of the High Court at the Hall of Justice in Port of Spain. The order granting leave certifies there is merit in the petitions and that there is a serious issue to be tried. If the cases were without merit, leave would have been refused.

The main issue in this case is whether the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) acted illegally and in breach of the constitution when it extended the voting time from 6pm- 7pm on Election Day.

The sudden decision of the EBC to extend the voting time caught many by surprise and led to chaos and confusion. Legal letters were written to notify the EBC that candidates were receiving numerous complaints from voters who were turned away from the polls, when they went after 6pmto cast their vote because the EBC officials were themselves unaware of the EBC’s decision to extend the voting time.

It was reported in the Trinidad Guardian Newspaper on September 8th 2015 in a story entitled “T&T Starts New Era under the PNM” that the PNM had asked the EBC to extend the voting time. According to the statement, there has been no denial or refutation of this significant statement by the EBC. The UNC was never informed that such a request was made. The UNC was never officially informed by the EBC of its decision to extend its time for voting.

The UNC has called upon the EBC to state publicly whether the PNM did in fact make such a request. If such a request was made, they have asked that there be full and frank disclosure in the following:

Ø  When was the request made?
Ø  What time was it made?
Ø  Who made the request?
Ø  To whom was it made?
Ø  How was it made?
Ø  Why was no other political party or candidate informed of this request?
Ø  When did the EBC meet to consider this request?
Ø  Why was it approved?

The statement ended by stating, “These are important searching questions which the EBC must answer to the population left our democracy be distorted and thwarted. It was patently unfair to change the rules of the election and shift the goal post so close to the final whistle. It is important that the constitution be protected from any abuse of power and hence we are pleased that the High Court has seen it fit to grant leave so that clarification can be provided on this important issue which strikes at the very heart of our democracy.”

The UNC was represented by Former Attorney General Anand Ramlogan SC, Wayne Sturge, Gerald Ramdeen and Kent Samlal.

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A Moment with the Registrar of Lands

jg2

Former prime minister Kamla Persad Bissessar

In spite of a CMC report dated September 14, 2015 which said “Former prime minister Kamla Persad Bissessar has hinted at not pursuing a legal challenge to the results of the September 7 general elections, saying members of the coalition People’s Partnership “will do our patriotic duty as members of the Opposition”, a later report out of Trinidad says, “the party has announced that they were granted leave to file 6 election petitions to challenge the validity of the election process…”

In a statement issued by the United National Congress (UNC) on September 18, the party has announced that they were granted leave to file 6 election petitions to challenge the validity of the election process in 6 critical constituencies namely:

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§  ·        La Horquetta/Talparo
§  ·        Tunapuna
§  ·        St. Joseph
§  ·        Toco/Sangre Grande
§  ·        San Fernando West
§  ·        Moruga/Tableland

Senior High Court Judge Madam Justice Mira Dean- Amourer made the order granting leave in all 6 matters at around 7pm in a special late night sitting of the High Court at the Hall of Justice in Port of Spain. The order granting leave certifies there is merit in the petitions and that there is a serious issue to be tried. If the cases were without merit, leave would have been refused.

The main issue in this case is whether the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) acted illegally and in breach of the constitution when it extended the voting time from 6pm- 7pm on Election Day.

The sudden decision of the EBC to extend the voting time caught many by surprise and led to chaos and confusion. Legal letters were written to notify the EBC that candidates were receiving numerous complaints from voters who were turned away from the polls, when they went after 6pmto cast their vote because the EBC officials were themselves unaware of the EBC’s decision to extend the voting time.

It was reported in the Trinidad Guardian Newspaper on September 8th 2015 in a story entitled “T&T Starts New Era under the PNM” that the PNM had asked the EBC to extend the voting time. According to the statement, there has been no denial or refutation of this significant statement by the EBC. The UNC was never informed that such a request was made. The UNC was never officially informed by the EBC of its decision to extend its time for voting.

The UNC has called upon the EBC to state publicly whether the PNM did in fact make such a request. If such a request was made, they have asked that there be full and frank disclosure in the following:

Ø  When was the request made?
Ø  What time was it made?
Ø  Who made the request?
Ø  To whom was it made?
Ø  How was it made?
Ø  Why was no other political party or candidate informed of this request?
Ø  When did the EBC meet to consider this request?
Ø  Why was it approved?

The statement ended by stating, “These are important searching questions which the EBC must answer to the population left our democracy be distorted and thwarted. It was patently unfair to change the rules of the election and shift the goal post so close to the final whistle. It is important that the constitution be protected from any abuse of power and hence we are pleased that the High Court has seen it fit to grant leave so that clarification can be provided on this important issue which strikes at the very heart of our democracy.”

The UNC was represented by Former Attorney General Anand Ramlogan SC, Wayne Sturge, Gerald Ramdeen and Kent Samlal.