Opposition Leader, Godwin Friday, on Thursday, dismissed Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves’ view that Tuesday’s court ruling reinstating the opposition’s election petitions was no political victory.
He said the court ruling is a landmark decision on the Dec. 9, 2015 general elections, which “have still not been settled”.
The opposition leader said that while his New Democratic Party is only challenging the results in Central Leeward and North Windward, “the problems that were identified and reported there were reported elsewhere; the whole election remains under question.
“This can only be settled in fresh elections. We will continue with the legal struggle but there are also political solutions to this problem and we will call on the government to do so in accordance with what the court of appeal says, expeditiously,” he said.
On Tuesday, the Court of Appeal said that High Court judge, Justice Brian Cottle showed apparent bias when, last June, he threw out the petitions as improperly filed.
The court reinstated the petitions, sending them back to the High Court for hearing before a different judge.
Gonsalves said shortly after the ruling that while the opposition New Democratic Party was celebrating, they have scored no political victory.
“What do you expect the prime minister to say? This was a clear victory on behalf of Exeter and Baptise specifically as the appellants,” Friday said at a press conference called by his New Democratic Party in Kingstown.
“The court of appeal ruled in your favour; there is only one way to interpret that. It is a very big case because this is an election petition for St. Vincent and the Grenadines.”
The NDP is asking the court to overturn the results in Central Leeward and North Windward in the Dec. 9, 2015 general elections.
According to the official results, Gonsalves’ Unity Labour Party won eight of the 15 seats, while the remainder went to the NDP.
If the court were to overturn the results, it could cause the Gonsalves administration to fall and trigger by- or general elections, depending on how the government responds.
Friday noted the composition of the nation’s Parliament and said it is not a case where the outcome of the case would merely add or take a seat from one of the sides.
“This determines the election, so I don’t see how anybody would perceive this as anything but a very landmark decision for St. Vincent and the Grenadines, because it means that the petitions remain alive, that we will pursue them as vigorously and expeditiously as the court expects us to and, we expect the other side to do so and then finally have a determination as to whether the election in St. Vincent and the Grenadines went in favour of the ULP or not,” Friday said.
He reiterated the NDP’s position that the results do not reflect the will of voters.
“And the problem you would find is that in those two constituencies for which we have evidence, there were reports of similar things happening in other consistencies.
“So those problems may have well been generalised throughout the entire electoral process and that needs — I don’t see how anybody could conceive this as anything but a very important decision on behalf of the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and anybody says otherwise, they are either being disingenuous or they are deluding themselves,” Friday said.