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Posted: Wednesday 4 July, 2012 at 7:20 PM

Brantley confident of victory in Election Petition Appeal

The Hons. Mark Brantley (l) and Hensley Daniel
By: Stanford Conway,

    CHARLESTOWN, Nevis – MARK BRANTLEY, Deputy Leader of the Concerned Citizen’s Movement (CCM), said that he is confident of victory in the Election Petition Appeal scheduled to be heard tomorrow and Friday (July 5 and 6) in Nevis.


    “We are very confident that we are on the right side of this issue. We are very confident that we have been the party that has been seeking to protect the rights of voters and the sanctity of our democracy.”


    Brantley, the claimant in the case, had lost the July 11, 2011 Nevis’ Election in the St. John’s District by 14 votes to Hensley Daniel, Deputy Leader of the Nevis Reformation Party (NRP), which gave that political party a three-two victory at the polls.


    He however filed a petition, charging that the outcome of the poll was affected by widespread irregularities, and on March 21, 2012 Justice Lionel Jones ruled in his favour by declaring the election null and void.


    The respondents, including Supervisor of Elections Leroy Benjamin, Registration Officer on Nevis Bernadette Lawrence and Nevis’ Premier Joseph Parry, appealed the decision and a stay of execution was granted for the NRP-led Nevis Island Administration to continue to function uninterrupted until the appeal is heard.


    Brantley noted that Justice Jones was correct in his findings and he strongly believes that the Court of Appeal would agree with the learned judge’s decision, adding that everyone would have to accept the outcome.
    “We feel that the learned judge was correct in his findings. So egregious were the breaches of the law and so willful and deliberate the actions of the electoral officials. We are optimistic…very optimistic that the Court of Appeal will agree that this election cannot stand.


    “It will obviously be a matter for the court to determine and we will have to respect the outcome whatever it is, but the other side has said nothing new; nothing that they have not said already to the law court. And we are feeling very confident that the position that the judge below took will be the position that the Court of Appeal will adopt as well.”


    Brantley’s legal representatives had filed a cross appeal on some other areas of the judge’s ruling, and noted in his explanation on the matter that Justice Jones made a finding that the process engaged in to remove hundreds of people from the Voter’s List was illegal, null and void.


    “Our conclusion from that, as a matter of law, is that these people were never lawfully removed from the list and therefore it follows, ought probably, to be on the list. The judge however determined that he would not make a specific order that the names be restored, on the basis that, he said, we did not specifically ask for that relief in our papers.”


    In response to the reason why his legal team did not ask for that relief, Brantley said they felt that it would have followed as a matter of course. “And if the process to remove people was illegal, null and void, then it follows that they were never removed. That, therefore, we have asked for some clarification from the Court of Appeal as to how these two things can sit together.”


    He noted that the second aspect of it was that the judge found that Benjamin and Lawrence had engaged in conduct which was reprehensible.


    “He said, for example of Mrs. Bernadette Lawrence, that she deliberately disenfranchised people and that she did so to benefit her party, the NRP,” Brantley added, claiming that in light of those findings, “which are very serious findings against public officials, we feel that it is an award appropriate that they be ordered to pay our costs. And so we have asked the Court of Appeal to order that our costs be paid for, in any event, by the other side”.


    The Deputy Party Leader is inviting nationals of and citizens in the twin-island Federation to go to the court in Charlestown tomorrow and Friday to hear the arguments to be presented by the two legal teams.


    “I believe that the public ought to be engaged in this process, and I am inviting one and all whoever can make the time to come out and hear the arguments for themselves, because we are in the middle of history. We are creating it as we go, and historians, decades, perhaps centuries from now, will look back at this period in the life and times of St. Kitts and Nevis and determine who the actors were and how they acted.


    “And I feel that the people of this country have an opportunity to align themselves with what is right, what is just, what is proper. It is my hope that they will come out and that they will participate by their presence to demonstrate to one and all the seriousness with which we as a country knew our democracy.”


    Brantley said that the case has far-reaching consequences and it is being watched regionally and internationally.
    “I have had calls from representatives of governments throughout the world who are interested in this case because we feel that it is critical for the survival of democracy not only in Nevis and St. Kitts, but also in the wider region,” he concluded.


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