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Justice Esco Henry. (iWN file photo)
Justice Esco Henry. (iWN file photo)

Chair of the main opposition New Democratic Party (NDP), Daniel Cummings, believes that the High Court should reduce the workload of the judge hearing the two elections petitions his party has filed, so she can focus only on those matters.

Two years on, there is yet to be a resolution to the petitions that the NDP has brought challenging the results of the Dec. 9, 2015 vote.

“I keep saying the Appeal Court in St. Lucia said that this matter should be handled expeditiously and I call again for the administration of the court to assign sufficient time to the learned judge who is dealing with this matter so that the matter can be processed as swiftly as possible,” Cummings said last week in his weekly appearance on his party’s radio programme, “New Times” on NICE Radio.

The petitions were filed in early 2016, but in July of that year, High Court Judge, Justice Brian Cottle threw them out as improperly filed.

In March 2017, The Court of Appeal, sitting in St. Lucia, overturned that judgement, saying Cottle showed apparent bias in reaching his decision.

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The higher court further reinstated the petitions and ordered that a different judge hear them, speedily.

Daniel Cummings 2
Chair of the NDP, Daniel Cummings. (iWN file photo)

The court has assigned Justice Esco Henry to hear the petitions, but some observers have complained about what they say is slow progress on the matter.

Since the matter came back up for hearing in May, there have a number of adjournments or hearings in which some observers say very little progress was made.

Reasons for adjournments have included a change in lead counsel for the respondents (government), and, on the last occasion, the respondents not being prepared to debate a motion after the petitioners rejected a draft consent order.

However, most of these adjournments have been granted without objections from counsel for petitioners.

Hearing in the matters are scheduled to continue on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, when the court is slated to hear an application by the petitioners to inspect ballots and other election documents from Central Leeward.

The NDP is challenging the outcome of the vote in that constituency and in North Windward and are asking the court to declare its candidates the winners or order fresh elections in both districts.

According to the official results of the elections, the Unity Labour Party secured a fourth five-year term by winning eight of the 15 parliamentary seats.

The party, which came to office in March 2001, has denied wrongdoing in its conduct of the elections.

Cummings called for expedited hearing of the petitions.

“It is unfair to us as a people and country to have a government that is highly suspect, a government that stole power and is occupying the seats of governance when the court has to determine who really ought to be the persons who ought to be in government in this country. So we need a quick resolution,” said Cummings, who is into a second term as Member of Parliament for West Kingstown.