A detour to moving on

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We admit it. We were premature when we proclaimed, “It’s done … time to move on.” That was the title of our piece after the Barbuda Council election. We described it as “a council election like no other” but little did we know how right we were. In another piece titled “Election … the season for giving”. we said ”The elections in Barbuda never fail to give us something new. As pure spectator sports, they are entertaining, nail-biting affairs that oftentimes leave observers shaking their heads at what they have just witnessed”. “It is part of the uniqueness and charm of Barbuda” we proclaimed. While we may have thought that it was all ‘done and dusted’, the election that was, still is, and the Barbuda election drama continues today.
As we said, Barbuda did not stray from its reputation for nail-biting finishes and results that keep politicians in check. Both sides went all out for a major win with the Antigua & Barbuda Labour Party (ABLP) warning voters that they must return them to power for development to continue, and the Barbuda People’s Movement (BPM), with strong backing from the United Progressive Party (UPP), warning the voters that they should not be fooled by the political gimmicks and the airport “ground faking”. In the end, the Barbudans had their say and voted the way they wanted, as is their custom. The BPM won four of the six seats contested and the ABLP secured two. However, the ABLP seemed to secure the control of the Council when all the seats were tallied. They had two existing council seats, two new seats plus Minister Nibbs’ seat. That gave the parties five apiece. The ABLP, however, was also counting on the deciding seat, which is the yet-to-be-appointed senator that is appointed by the Governor General. Or, so we thought. 
Now, we have learned that there is a challenge to the outcome. Fabian Jones contends that one of the ABLP candidates, Knacyntar Nedd, was ineligible to participate in the council elections. According to Jones’ petition in the High Court, Nedd did not resign from her position as a senator before vying for elections to sit on the 11-member Barbuda Council. He contends that there is no evidence of the resignation, which was necessary in his view, since he believes a senator is considered a public officer and under the Barbuda Local Government Act, public officers are disqualified from vying for office.
In response, Nedd has said that she did indeed tender her resignation in a timely manner and it was forwarded to the Governor General. Further, she has indicated that, in her opinion, the timing is odd, and she questions why the challenge did not come prior to the election.
Regardless of who said what and who did or did not resign when, this all sets up the potential for a very interesting and very likely, entertaining political court case (we hope). Thank you Barbuda! We have no idea if this is a long shot or whether Mr Jones has a legitimate chance at challenging the outcome. What we do know is that if Mr Jones is successful in his challenge, the political landscape in Barbuda will change. Unless of course, Ms Nedd challenges his challenge and we continue to do a courtroom dosey-doe. 
We sincerely hope that is not the case. Having Barbuda in limbo does no one any good. We meant it when we said, “Time to move on”. Is the detour worth it? Maybe. Challenges such as these are serious matters and they should get priority access to the courts so that they do not hamper or delay the advancement of Barbuda. So if there is a case to be heard, let’s hear it, decide and move on.
As an aside, one would think that there would be a basic vetting process to ensure that political candidates meet a qualification standard so that we are not plunged into these types of electoral uncertainty. Not that we are saying, “there is no process”, but if there were one in place, we shouldn’t be heading to court over such a basic matter. And, if there is not a process, then there should be one. It should not be left up to political candidates to vet their opponents. No voter should have to vote for a candidate who is illegible. It wastes those precious votes. 
That brings us to our national election and two pertinent questions: 1) Is there a vetting process? and 2) Who is responsible for that process? Maybe someone from the Antigua & Barbuda Electoral Commission (ABEC) can answer. Or, anyone for that matter.
We invite you to visit www.antiguaobserver.com and give us your feedback on our opinions.

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