Election Petition trial set for March 15!

Lorenzo Francis, one of the attorneys for the Opposition.

High Court judge, Justice Rosalyn Wilkinson, announced in court on Thursday that 15 March 2012, has been identified as the date for the commencement of the trial of the election petition by the agreement of all parties in the matter.
The announcement came after lawyers representing the opposition, UWP and governing party, SLP requested an adjournment in the matter to allow adequate time to prepare their case. Directions were given by the judge to the parties as to when to file responses to affidavits and when they will exchange submissions.
Speaking outside the courthouse, one of the attorneys for the United Workers Party, Lorenzo Francis, told the STAR that “these petitions are very meticulous and unique areas of law.”
He added: “It is very precise, very specific and what has happened now is that we didn’t have the expertise in St Lucia to actually prosecute or defend these matters, so both parties sought representation from outside.”
Senior Counsel Anthony Astaphan from Dominica is the lead counsel representing the governing St Lucia Labour Party and Reginald Amour, Senior Counsel at Marie de Vere Chambers in Trinidad & Tobago is the lead counsel representing the opposition.
Meanwhile, former Gros Islet MP Lenard Montoute also spoke with the STAR and shared his thoughts on the matter.
He said: “We look forward to that day in court which is all about upholding the democratic spirit where we want to ensure it is the will of the people that prevails and whatever the results, whatever the outcome is, we want to ensure that at the end of the day, there are no questions as to whether or not the will of the people is what obtains.”
Montoute also indicated that he has a personal interest in the matter since the election result in his constituency was very close, giving the SLP’s Emma Hippolyte a victory margin of seven votes. Not only for this reason does the Leader of Opposition Business in the Senate admit to having a keen interest but he believes that this should be settled sooner, rather than later, so the country can move forward.
The United Workers Party has kept to its promise to file an appeal against the returning officers challenging the election results in Babonneau, Gros-Islet and Choiseul.
Chairman of the Electoral Commission, Kenneth Monplaisir QC said, “the electoral laws of the country allows for the submission of a petition and the decision now lies in the hands of the courts.”
The SLP’s Alvina Reynolds won the Babonneau seat by two votes and Lorne Theophilus took the Choiseul seat by 95 votes.
According to our research this is the second time elections results have been challenged in this way.  The first occurred in 1974 between Henry Giraudy and Bruce Williams and the decision was not overturned.

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