On February 11, 2019, the long-awaited trial of the election petitions filed by two of the candidates for the New Democratic Party (NDP), Mr. Benjamin Exeter and Mr. Lauron Baptiste, began. Evidence presented by the petitioners’ witnesses and in cross-examination of the Respondents’ witnesses revealed that all was not well with the 2015 elections in Central Leeward and North Windward constituencies.
The evidence revealed many irregularities and illegal conduct on the part of election officials in the conduct of the elections. After several days of evidence and cross-examination of witnesses, the trial concluded, and the parties were invited to make oral and written submissions to the Court. This they did. It was then up to Acting Justice Stanley John to consider all the evidence, relevant to the cases and the arguments of the parties and render his judgment in the matter.
As promised, he gave his decision on March 21, 2019. To our great disappointment and, indeed, consternation, Justice John found that, save for the complaint of partiality on the part of election officials in Central Leeward; there was “no evidence” to support the complaints of the petitioners. With all due respect to the Court, we in the NDP do not agree with that judgment. Our lawyers have advised that the judgment of the Court is flawed in many respects and that there are solid grounds for appeal. In the Court of public opinion, the decision of the Court has also been found wanting, and the general public sentiment has been critical of it. For the petitioners, for the lawyers who have ably represented them, for the NDP and for the wider public the matter is not settled. After three years of struggle, of ups and downs, of highs and lows, of triumphs and setbacks, the matter remains unresolved.