BASSETERRE, St. Kitts & Nevis: The opposition People’s Action Movement (PAM) is claiming victory following the ruling of a High Court judge on Monday in a highly publicized court battle that has left the administration of Prime Minister Dr. Denzil Douglas pondering its next move.
Justice Errol Thomas, in a 107-page judgement, condemned recent parliamentary maneuvers made by the government in its bid to change the constituency boundaries in the twin-island federation.
The judge upheld the argument put forward by the opposition party that the laying of the Constituency Boundaries Commission report and the issuing of a proclamation to act on the report were unconstitutional since an injunction was already in place.
“Today is a victory for democracy and fairness in St. Kitts and Nevis and the concept of free and fair elections,” said PAM leader Lindsay Grant. “Today, the judge handed down a decision in our favour and essentially that the proclamation produced by the government was bad and that the Technical Boundaries Commission Report, upon which the Commission produced a report, was unconstitutional.”
Justice Thomas ruled further that the paper in Parliament that launched the electoral process was unconstitutional because it was not based on any enabling legislation.
“So, technically speaking, the start of the process by the government was unconstitutional,” Grant said, adding that it was now up to Douglas to decide when to set a date for general elections.
Parliament is due to be dissolved on December 16. The St. Kitts and Nevis Labour Party’s current five-year term in office will expire on October 25.
The PAM has been clamouring for the announcement of the poll, which is now expected to take place by March. However, Douglas has sought to blame the opposition party for recent delays occasioned by the ongoing court process.
It was not immediately clear how the government would proceed in light of the court ruling.
“It is something that we need to have a considered, mature and serious look at before we can advise the Prime Minister and the Attorney General what are the various options,” said Anthony Astaphan, one of the lawyers representing the government.