ST. VINCENT: – Leader of the Opposition Arnhim Eustace says his party’s vigil in Kingstown on Thursday, Sept. 2, has ensured that there would be no new Boundaries Report on Friday, Sept 3.
He said his New Democratic Party (NDP) will on Monday apprise Vincentians of “some other actions we have taken which I would not talk about today (Thursday, Sept. 2)”.
“I am just happy that so many people have responded at such short notice. … On Monday, when I go on my [radio] programme, I will give much more details as to how this whole matter was handled. What I would say however to you is that things went in our favour today,” Eustace told I Witness-News.
Supporters of the NDP protested outside the Administrative Complex after it became public that the Boundaries Commission would meet on Thursday, Sept 2.
The meeting came in the face of a High Court injunction, which prevents the publishing of the Commission’s July 9 report.
The report makes proposal for the location of two additional constituencies approved by Parliament in March.
The National Broadcasting Corporation reported that the Commission, after the meeting on Thursday, has decided to seek legal advice before deciding the way forward.
The Commission, in its initial deliberations, had rejected proposals made by Selwyn Jones, Eustace’s representative on the Commission, according to lawyers for the NDP, Nicole Sylverster and Kay Bacchus-Browne.
The NDP said the Commission, during the meeting on Thursday, would have accepted Jones’ original proposals. (Go to the homepage to subscribe to I Witness-News)
The NDP’s argument suggests that such a situation would result in a new report, over which the July 9 injunction would have no power, hence paving the way for the dissolution of Parliament and the calling of snap elections.
Elections are constitutionally due by March 2011 but can be held using the 15 existing seats, notwithstanding the injunction.
“We achieve what we wanted to achieve. There will be no new order tomorrow. I am not going into details about what the Boundaries Commission did today until I have it in writing,” Eustace told I Witness-News at the end of the vigil.
Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves said on Wednesday that the boundaries commission is “still alive” notwithstanding the court order that prohibits the publishing of its report until the trial of constitutional issues raised by Eustace.
But the NDP has criticized Gonsalves and his Unity Labour Party (ULP) saying that the Boundaries Commission was trying to circumvent the ruling of the High Court.
Parliament has decided that the number of constituencies in St. Vincent and the Grenadines should be increased from 15 to 17. (Follow I Witness-News on Facebook)
But the NDP objects to the increase, saying that Vincentian rejected that proposal last November when they voted against proposed changes to the nation’s constitution.
“Fifteen seats have other implications. It has cost implications and it violates some of the very principles that Gonsalves was talking about,” Eustace said.
He said that had the proposed new constitution been adopted, then the NDP could not have challenged the Boundaries Report.
The failed constitution contained a clause that said the report of the Boundaries Commission could not be challenged in any court of law.
But General Secretary of the ULP, Senator Julian Francis told SVGTV that the NDP’s protest was “an act of desperation”.
“We are insisting, and our position is: we passed a law in Parliament for 17 seats, there is a stay on the report of the Boundaries Commission. We have respected that. It does not stop the work of the Boundaries Commission. … We have said on the platform, whether it is 15 seats or 17 seats, the election is coming soon. Mr Eustace wants it, everybody wants it,” Francis said.