Barbudans to vote on Antigua

Antigua election observers

The Antigua and Barbuda Electoral Commission (ABEC) said Barbudans will be allowed to cast their ballots in the March 21 general election on Antigua after the High Court ruled it was premature to challenge the electoral process regarding where constituents of Barbuda should vote.

The leader of the Barbuda People’s Movement, Trevor Walker, had asked the High Court to prevent the ABEC from having the people of Barbuda cast their ballots on the island of Antigua.

Barbuda was severely affected when Hurricane Irma passed through the Lesser Antilles last September, forcing the government to order a total evacuation of the island. But since then many of the 1,600 Barbudans have returned to their homes.

But Walker, who filed the application, said, “We are asking the court for an interim injunction to prevent the Electoral Commission [from] allowing Barbudans to vote in Antigua.”

But Justice Clare Henry ruled that the matter can only proceed by way of an election petition.

In her ruling the judge said, “There was no claim properly before the court to grant an injunction, therefore the request has failed”. She added that the claim displays no cause of action.

ABEC chairman Nathaniel “Paddy” James said the Commission “has the best interest of Barbudans at heart.”

He said that discussions will continue with officials from the National Office of Disaster Services (NODS) to discuss the transportation to Barbudans to Antigua.

Tabor said that a petition will be filed after the election for the constituency of Barbuda, but only on one condition.

“The plan is, if Mr. Trevor Walker loses on election day, then, of course, we will file an election petition to challenge the results because our position is, an election cannot be conducted outside of a constituency and that is a fundamental issue that the court will eventually have to pronounce on,” he said.

In the last general election in 2014, the Antigua and Barbuda Labor Party (ALP) won 14 of the 17 seats with the remainder going to the United Progressive Party (UPP).

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