Mixed feelings re judgmentWritten by Editor
Hon. Mark Brantley’s attorneys through Senior Counsel, Douglas Mendes, submitted five declarations under which their claim should be judged: a declaration that the election was invalid, a declaration that the names illegally removed must be replaced, a declaration that the petitioner’s right to freedom of expression was violated, and a declaration that the electoral office failed in its duties to the people of Nevis.
In Justice Jones’ five-point order, the grounds mentioned by the petitioner were nullified except the petitioner’s claim that his right to freedom of expression was violated. Concerned Citizens Movement (CCM) representatives told reporters that they were happy that the election had been declared null and void while Nevis Reformation Party (NRP) supporters felt that the majority of the grounds they have brought to the fore were dropped.
Even though the CCM supporters mobbed their leaders with joy and excitement, in most quarters, a cross-section of Nevisians were discussing what they described as a controversial verdict. Some held strongly to the argument that since the strongest grounds traded by the petitioner, alleged removal of 200 names and alleged irregularities in electoral office were nullified by the judge’s order,(see stories inside) the denial of the petitioner’s right to freedom of speech was not strong enough to cause the judge to declare an election null and void.
The proponents of this school of thought argued that during the CCM’s 14-year tenure in office, the Nevis Reformation Party (NRP) leaders were not given coverage during their campaigns. The former Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Communication, Angelica Elliott, in her testimony during the Nevis Election Petition said that she had inherited the “policy” from her predecessors.
It will be interesting to find out in the coming days how the judge arrived at his five-point orders when his 141 page long Judgment is circulated. Two respondents, the Premier of Nevis, Hon. Joseph Parry and Hon. Hensley Daniel, immediately instructed their attorneys to file a stay of execution.
In his statement, the Premier of Nevis appealed for calm as the steps of justice offered by the rule of law are utilized to the maximum to ensure that justice is seen to be done. Unlike some nations in the world, the Caribbean region has chosen to respect the rule of law to solve disputes and conflicts. It is important that we all stay calm in the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis until the best decision is reached for the common good of the country.
Thus far, Nevisians on both sides have to be commended for respecting the rule of law to solve their political grievances. Persevering peacefully and in a civilized manner to the end is the acid test.