ST. JOHN’S, Antigua & Barbuda:
The opposition Antigua Labour Party (ALP) has also given notice of its intention to seek the intervention of the courts and regional and international organizations.
Last Thursday, commission member Juno Samuel was appointed ABEC chairman, replacing Sir Gerald, who was to return to the post on Monday after being on suspension for five and a half months while a tribunal looked into his actions as well as that of two others – deputy chairman Nathaniel “Paddy” James and commissioner Lionel “Max” Hurst. The tribunal cleared Watt and James of any wrongdoing, but Hurst has been removed from the commission for partisan behaviour towards the ALP.
James returned to his deputy post on Monday and Watt will sit as a commissioner.
Watt has issued a press statement calling the actions of Spencer “unlawful” and “a blatant, vulgar political and corruptive attack on integrity and independence of the Electoral Commission, more so when juxtaposed with the vindictive and unlawful action in removing long-serving staff,” referring to recent reassignments and dismissals at ABEC.
Watt also issued a warning to Spencer and Samuel.
“This dictatorial and despotic action by the prime minister can not and will not stand,” he wrote.
“I take this opportunity to advise the Chief Servant to avail himself of an experienced and competent attorney as he will be needing one very shortly, and Mr. Juno Samuel would be wise to avail himself of the same.”
Last weekend, Watt vowed not to let the matter rest, and said he was not fighting for himself but for the other commissioners and members of staff.
Sir Gerald Watt, the demoted chairman of the Antigua and Barbuda Electoral Commission (ABEC), has told Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer – who recommended the relegation – he will fight the demotion in court.