Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Court can’t halt elections, says Dominican judge


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ROSEAU, Dominica – A High Court judge Tuesday upheld an application by lawyers representing President Charles Savarin and the Electoral Commission that the court had no jurisdiction to entertain an application by several Dominicans aimed at postponing the December 6 general elections.

Justice Bernie Stephenson in an oral judgement said she agreed with the arguments put forward by the respondents that since an election writ had been issued, the election process had started and the only remedy was through an election petition once the elections had taken place.

“The conduct of election in Dominica is governed by the Constitution. When an election is called, the country enters into a period called elections, the parliament is dissolved,” she said, noting that while the applicants may have legitimate claims, they cannot be entertained at this time.

Justice Stephenson said that the matter then could be “properly” addressed by way of a petition” she said, noting that to rule otherwise, is to ask the court to predict the outcome of the election.

Attorney Cara Shillingford, who headed a team of lawyers on behalf of the petitioners, told the High Court says she will appeal the ruling.

“We are not surprised at the decision and will appeal. We remain firm in our conviction that the elections should be stopped and there are too many irregularities for the December 6th, 2019 election to go ahead. We have also indicated to the Judge that we will appeal,” Shillingford later told reporters.

The petitioners including the president of the Concerned Citizens Movement, Loftus Durand, Nicholas George, Dr Irving Pascal, Oswald George, Atherly Robin and Dale Laurant, had asked the court to issue an interim injunction restraining the parties concerned from holding the elections on December 6, or an any other date, prior to February 5, 2020 unless the procedures are fully in place to hold the elections.

Apart from Savarin and the Electoral Commission, they had also named the Chief Elections Officer, the Cabinet of Dominica, the Attorney General and the state-owned DBS radio as the respondents.

In her ruling, Justice Stephenson said that the elections in question “can only be challenged by election petition” and that she was making no award of costs in the matter. (CMC)


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