Ruling party accused of witness tampering

ST. JOHN’S, Antigua & Barbuda: The opposition Antigua Labour Party (ALP) is claiming that operatives of the United Progressive Party (UPP) have been threatening and intimidating persons who have filed statements in election challenges that are before the courts.

However, the ruling UPP has denied any such actions.

Opposition Leader Lester Bird leveled the charge in his weekly broadcast last Sunday and said the ALP had drawn the matter to the attention of police.

“Witnesses, who have sworn to affidavits attesting to electoral fraud by the UPP candidates in four constituencies at last March’s general election, have been the victims of terrorization by UPP operatives.

“The UPP is now deathly scared that the fraudulent results in the four constituencies that have been challenged will be overturned by the courts. This will mean by-elections which the UPP has no chance of winning. And, this is why they are determined to interfere with the legal process by terrorizing witnesses,” Bird said.

Bird said the ALP would keep a watchful eye on the situation and report any further interference.

However, UPP Chairman Leon Chaku Symister has denied Bird’s charges.

“We categorically deny that anyone has been tampering with any witnesses,” Symister said. “We call on Lester Bird not to wait for it to continue, as he puts it, but to do what he says they would.”

Following the March 12, 2009 elections in which the UPP won 10 seats and the ALP seven, the opposition party filed six challenges to the results in the constituencies of All Saints West, Barbuda, St. George, St. John’s Rural North, St. John’s Rural West and St. Paul.

The High Court dismissed the challenges for All Saints West and St. Paul, ruling that they were not filed in time. However, the others are still before the court.

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