Leader of the Opposition, Godwin Friday has responded to persons who have sought to downplay the decision of the court last Friday that the election petitions filed by his party are not invalid.
With the court decision, the petitions can proceed to trial, providing that the petitioners, Ben Exeter and Lauron “Sharer” Baptiste, each deposit EC$5,000 with the court by tomorrow, July 7.
“What will happen now is that the matters will be determined on their merits,” Friday told a press conference in Kingstown on Wednesday.
“Anybody who thinks that what happened last week Friday is not a big deal, just imagine what would have happened if it had gone the other way. There’d be no petitions today, alive,” he said.
The opposition leader said that with the Court ruling, the people have a chance for the petitions to be heard on their merits.
“The evidence would be there in the court, the court will determine. We will always put our confidence in the judicial system,” Friday said.
The New Democratic Party is challenging the outcome in Central Leeward and North Windward in the December 2015 general elections.
Electoral officials say that the Unity Labour Party of Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves won those seats and six others to secure an 8-7 majority and a fourth consecutive term in office.
The opposition leader said that he has heard comments about the justice system made by “senior members on the other side” since Friday’s decision.
“There was a reference made to a judicial coup d’état. I mean, those are very, very strong terms to be used by any party, any person, far less anybody in government,” Friday said, but did not identify the person who allegedly made the comment.
“And this is something that you understand that if you are disappointed with a court ruling, you may disagree with the decision of the judge, but you have to keep it within limits about the reasoning and the nature of the decision. We have always done that in our discussions of the decisions when they have gone against us.”
Friday, however, said that his party believes that the system should be allowed to work and that “those sorts of comments and that approach are simply not acceptable in a free, democratic society.
“The judicial system is one of the arms of government. It is independent, it is impartial and when you disagree with a decision, you appeal. That’s what you do,” Friday said.
The court is expected to hear next Wednesday, July 12, an application by lawyers for the petitioners to inspect ballot boxes and other documents relating to the elections.