PRESS RELEASE – United Worker’s Party Political Leader Allen Chastanet today called into question the procedure relating to the fixing of the date for the nomination of candidates for the General Election and blasted Prime Minister Kenny Anthony as arrogant, insensitive and uncaring.
The UWP is appalled that a decision would be made to hold nominations on a Saturday, which is the Sabbath for over 35,000 Christians of various denominations in Saint Lucia, the bulk of whom are Seventh Day Adventists. Guy Joseph, who is a practicing Adventist and who was present at the media conference today was especially offended and said he would have to take the decision personally because it would deny him the ability to go in person with his constituents to be nominated.
Sarah Flood-Beaubrun referred to Nomination Day as an event that required registered voters to be part of the democratic process. She deemed it unacceptable that the Government would chose a Saturday, which is the Sabbath for thousands of Saint Lucians and that as a matter of principle it should not be allowed. “This is another example of contempt for the people of Saint Lucia,” she said “and it is unacceptable.”
Referring to two advertisements published in two local newspapers, Chastanet said that the first published notice appeared in a newspaper dated May 21, 2016 and gave the date for nominations as May 27, 2016. A second notice was then published on May 23, 2016, superseding the previous notice, giving a new date of Saturday May 28, 2016.
Chastanet next read from two sections of the Elections Act to demonstrate the errors. Quoting from Section 36 he said that “every writ … shall specify: (a) the day of the nomination of candidates be not less than seven (7) and not more than fourteen (14) after the day of issue of the writ.”
The date the writ was issued was 20th May. The first publication of the notice on the 21st May clearly did not meet that 7-day requirement, Chastanet explained. As a consequence, a second publication of the notice with the new date of Saturday 28th May was done to fulfill that requirement of the Act, he said.
He next referred to Section 37 of the Act for the Notice of Time and Place for the Elections inter alia: “The Chief Elections Officer shall give notice … of the day and place fixed for the nomination of candidates by publication in the Gazette and one or more local newspapers at least seven days prior to the day fixed for such nomination.”
“If we are to take 7 days from the publication of the 23rd that takes us to May 30th for Nomination Day. So we contend that there has been a procedural error, a miscalculation that needs to be corrected, and we contend that nomination day cannot be on the 28th May, it ought to be on Monday the 30th May.”
Chastanet said the Party will be writing the appropriate authorities highlighting the procedural problems, but he hoped that the Government and the Prime Minister who is responsible for the Elections Commission would move with haste to rectify the situation.
This is yet another example of the arrogance and lack of respect for people’s religious rights and freedoms by a Prime Minister and a Government who have lost their way. When you add this to their lack or regard for students sitting two exams on June 6th, it is clear that Arrogant Anthony and his candidates are so obsessed with maintaining their grip on power that what they want comes first by any means necessary.
The United Worker’s Party is calling on Prime Minister Kenny Anthony to explain to the country why this decision to hold Nomination Day on Saturday 28th was made.