By C. ben-David
“We go forward with the legal battle, but we can clear the air of doubt about the 2015 elections by calling fresh elections now! This is what the people want!” (Godwin Friday, leader of the New Democratic Party [NDP], replying to the decision that the election petitions can proceed to trial)
“In my book, as I have said before and I will say it again: elections are won on election night. Name me the time that elections were won in the court. It doesn’t happen.” (Sir James F. Mitchell, longest serving Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines)
Dr. Friday’s frontier justice response to his party’s July 7 court victory ironically corresponds, if only in spirit, to Sir James’ Feb. 28 statement: in a free and independent country like our own, election results are determined by the democratic decision of the people.
This, of course, is also the view of ruling Unity Labour Party (ULP) which has resolutely and repeatedly declaring that the Dec. 9, 2015 elections were free and fair, a position supported by the findings of three respected and impartial external bodies: the Organization of American States (OAS); the Caribbean Community (CARICOM); and the Commonwealth of Nations.
The OAS Observers declared that they, “… did not discern any fraudulent or other activities at the final count which could have materially affected the outcome of the vote”; the CARICOM report said that, “… the results of the elections reflect the will of the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines”; and the detailed Commonwealth study stated that, “… overall the polling process was credible and voters appeared free to exercise their franchise.”
More specifically, though these objective bodies made procedural recommendations for future electoral improvement, none remotely claimed that the election was “stolen” by the ULP, a position impossible to reconcile with Dr. Friday’s potentially libellous claim that the Honourable Dr. Ralph E. Gonsalves’ regime was guilty of “electoral illegality, theft, impropriety, dishonesty, and skulduggery” in the conduct of the election.
Again, this unproven, likely unprovable, claim reinforces Dr. Friday’s preference for “free elections now” based on the vigilante mentality of an unlettered NDP rabble hell bent by an unquenchable thirst for political power.
Equally disconcerting are comments allegedly made by Ben Exeter who decisively lost the now contested Central Leeward race to Sir Louis “The Terminator” Straker that cheaper, albeit less competent, local lawyers should have been hired by the defence rather than the three expensive and highly skilled foreign barristers just recruited so as to save our taxpayers from paying their much higher legal fees.
Mr. Exeter’s complaint conveniently tries to conflate party politics with the act of governance by downplaying the elementary fact that the election petitions are not a legal battle between opposing political parties but rather a contest between the NDP and the Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines acting in support of its duly appointed electoral officials in the conduct of their administrative duties. The legally elected government of SVG has a right to hire the best legal minds possible, on behalf of all the citizens of the State, to defend the 2015 elections results, an outcome they and three disinterested teams of observers have deemed freely reflected the will of the voters.
Anything short of this could be interpreted as an egregious dereliction of duty, a short step from an act of treason.
The views expressed herein are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the opinions or editorial position of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to [email protected]
The views expressed herein are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the opinions or editorial position of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to [email protected].