The main opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) was so convinced that it had a strong case in the election petitions that it was prepared to pursue them up to the day before the next general election.
“We always told you that we had confidence that once the matter goes to trial that the people of this country will believe that the complaints that were made by the New Democratic Party were just and right,” Opposition Leader and NDP president, Godwin Friday told a party rally in Layou on Saturday.
The rally came at the end of the hearing of oral evidence in the petitions that the NDP has filed, challenging the results in Central Leeward and North Windward in the December 2015 general election.
A ruling in the matter is slated for March 21.
Friday said that when the NDP filed the petitions, the party knew that they had strong cases.
He noted that Senator Kay Bacchus-Baptiste, who is also a lawyer in the case and spoke before him at the rally, had recounted the evidence.
Friday noted that Bacchus-Baptiste had spoken of the “mutilated ballot”, ballots without the official marks and those that did not confirm to the law, and the “irregularities and illegalities” that were recounted and confirmed in the evidence in the trial.
“We told you so long ago, that was what we were saying, what we observed. This was not a matter of just making up something, or sour grapes because they say that NDP didn’t win the election,” Friday said.
“What we were standing up for was democracy in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. We were standing up, not just for the NDP. We were and continue to stand up for the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, not just for the people who voted for the NDP.
“It’s for everybody and I say if I was the only person standing up, and I know I would not be, that I would pursue this matter because I knew it was just and it was right. And I have seen in the evidence that has come out in the court that it has confirmed the outcry that we made in 2015 after the elections. And we will continue to pursue it. We ain’t reach the end yet.”
In November 2016, Friday took over from Arnhim Eustace as opposition leader and NDP president.
He decided to continue the petitions, which were filed under Eustace’s leadership.
The petitions have had a long history in the court, having been dismissed by High Court judge, Justice Brian Cottle as improperly filed, only to have the decision overturned by the Appeal Court, which ruled that Cottle’s decision showed apparent bias.
Friday said it was the government’s intention to delay the case until the next election.
“But you know what their strategy was? This matter was never supposed to come to court. It was never supposed to go to trial. It was supposed to be delay after delay after delay until the election comes around in five years,” Friday said.
“But if it was the last day before they announced election, we were still going to pursue this matter because we have to know what happened in 2015. We cannot go back into another election without knowing what happened in 2015 and we cannot go back into another election without correcting all the wrongs that were done in 2010 and also in 2015,” the NDP leader told persons at the rally and media audiences.