NDP supporters downed their placard after the disappointing court judgement on Feb. 27. (iWN photo)

The main opposition New Democratic Party says its failure to secure the court’s permission to inspect ballots used in Central Leeward in the 2015 general election is a setback, but withdrawing its challenges to the election results is not an option.

“We must see this through to the end. Otherwise, we will be failing in our obligation to the people,” NDP President and Leader of the Opposition, Godwin Friday said one day after the Feb. 27 court ruling.

Friday, speaking on Boom FM, said that some persons who are not as intimately involved in the case may feel that the NDP should withdraw the petitions.

“But I have a better appreciation and I tell you what we are doing is absolutely essential and whatever the outcome is, we must see it through to its conclusion.”

He said that NDP supporters were disappointed by Justice Esco Henry’s ruling dismissing the March 2017 application for permission to inspect the ballot boxes.

Henry ruled that the application was similar to one that Justice Brian Cottle dismissed in 2015, and was, therefore, an abuse of the court’s process.

NDP president, Opposition Leader supporters Godwin Friday says ending the challenge to the election results is not an option. (iWN photo)

“The people are disappointed, yes. Discouraged? No. I don’t think anybody anticipated it to go the way it went …, not even the lawyers on the other side,” Friday said of the ruling.

Election officials say that the ruling Unity Labour Party (ULP) Sir Louis Straker won the Central Leeward seat among the eight secured by the party for a fourth consecutive term in office.

However, the NDP’s Ben Exeter has brought the challenge to the results, while his colleague, Lauron “Sharer” Baptiste has brought a similar challenge in North Windward, where the ULP’s Montgomery Daniel was declared the winner.

In Central Leeward, the presiding officer, Winston Gaymes, has admitted in an affidavit that he counted ballots, which, under the election law, should have been rejected.

Friday said that the court proceedings are not just about the petitions.

“It’s not just the case. It’s what happened in the election. We need to know that,” he said, adding that inspection of the ballot boxes would have been a very effective way to know what happened in the election.

“… because from that constituency, once you have all the evidence, you can extrapolate what happened elsewhere,” he said.

Friday said that the NDP is not trying to win an election through the court.

“We want to know who won the election in 2015. You can only win an election at the polls. All the court is trying to determine is what happened at the polls,” he said.

He said that sometimes, the electoral process comes into question.

“It is said that you have to go to the court to have that determined. That is what we are doing. We are following our electoral process. We are following our laws. This is as essential as going out on Election Day. It is as essential as designing the ballot paper. This is part of the process. The process of electing a government is not simply going to the polls and voting,” the opposition leader said, adding that where there are questions, they are determined by the court.

He said that in the United States, the court had made a determination about whether George W. Bush or Al Gore had won the 2000 election.

Friday said that Bill Clinton, who was president at the time, observed that the American people had spoken but the nation did not know as yet what they had said at the polls.

“That is what we are trying to determine in the court: what did the people say in December of 2015,” Friday said.

“This is a bump in the road. We have had worse situations. Don’t forget the petitions were knocked out before and they are back on,” he said.

“We will have a chance to go to the court and try to persuade the court based on the evidence that we have that the allegations that are made in the petitions are valid and that they should be upheld and that we will have an opportunity to give to the public more of an exposé. Because that is what people want. They want to know what happened,” Friday said, adding that non-supporters of the NDP also want to know what happened in 2015.

“When you delegitimize not just the election but the election process, when people have no confidence in that process, then voting itself becomes an exercise that is fraught with danger and the outcome will no longer be accepted by whoever loses because you can’t accept the integrity of the process, that the process was free and fair…

“It is not a small matter. It is a very, very important matter,” he said.

NDP politician Ben Exeter has brought the challenge to the election result. (iWN file photo)

And, Exeter, speaking on NICE Radio immediately after the court ruling, said, “… the setback is not only for me and the people of Central Leeward. It’s [for] all of St. Vincent and the Grenadines…

“I am asking you, continue with me in this fight. We are nowhere out. A little bit [of a] setback today. That’s all it is; a minor setback. But I am determined to see this to the very end.

“This commitment I have made from day one and I’m continuing to make this commitment. This impacts a lot of people and it would be very selfish of me to pack up now and cower and run away. It is not in my nature.”

4 replies on “Ending election petition cases ‘not an option’”

  1. I truly hope this matter is dispensed thoroughly soon so that the country can move forward. It’s been too long.

  2. The NDP strategy will ensure the ULP gets five in a row. This is a one issue party. What they should be doing is a post mortem of the 2015 elections results and align there strategies as to avoid the mistakes of the past, only theneed will they be able to turn back the tide of five in a row. However, it would appears to me that the strategies employed are myopic and feeble at best. They must be forward looking and align themselves with a new vision to enable them to differentiate themselves from the ULP. Sad to say that the strategies employed are anemic at best to ensure folks a trend of five in a row. This is free advice NDP it am not going to invoice you but take heed or suffer the same fate ad the past. Is anyone listening?

    1. Though I agree 100% with your statement, you are wasting your time in stating the obvious. When someone states their opinion on the flaws of the NDP in the hope that they can dig deep and truly give an alternative, they are labeled as ULP.

  3. It is unfortunate that the leadership of the NDP continues to squander an opportunity to remove the marauding ULP government. What has it done to convince of its ability to lead? It failed to convince the population with its message…It has since failed to convince the Court…Is there any sense of a victorious spirit on which to ride into the upcoming election cycle?
    Develop a message that resonates[done through “quiet” testing in areas in which it has been unsuccessful] and like a hammer tapping a nail head, drive such a message daily! You already have your core support; the challenge is to convince voters on the other side, to change voting patterns…

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