ABEC asks duo to step aside

ST JOHN’S, Antigua – The two people who assumed the functions a 2011 amendment to electoral law stripped from Supervisor of Elections Lorna Simon have been asked to demit office, at least temporarily.

Well-placed sources said the move is to facilitate Simon’s resumption of duties as chief registration officer, in keeping with Wednesday’s High Court ruling that declared the change to the legislation unconstitutional.

But three well-placed sources told OBSERVER media the decision by the Antigua & Barbuda Electoral Commission (ABEC) to halt Generis Robinson and Gary Peters from working as chief registration officer and chief administrative officer respectively is a temporary one.

“It will remain in effect at least until Tuesday, when the Antigua & Barbuda Electoral Commission meets to make the final decision in the event of an appeal by government, which is more than likely to happen,” one source said.

ABEC’s spokesperson Anne Harewood George did not confirm the information when contacted yesterday. What she would say is that Simon was asked to resume the functions of which she was relieved under the Representation of the People (Amendment) Act No 12 of 2011.

Harewood George also confirmed that ABEC would meet next Tuesday to decide the fate of the duo now in limbo. By that time, it will be clear if an appeal will be filed.

This decision is the preserve of Attorney General Justin Simon QC and not ABEC since “it is the government that would have to appeal,” Harewood George said.

Efforts to reach Simon were unsuccessful.

On Wednesday, High Court Justice Clare Henry declared the Representation of the People (Amendment) Act No 12 of 2011 null and void in so far as it altered the powers, functions and duties of the supervisor of elections which are entrenched in Section 67 of the Constitution.

Justice Henry ruled that by altering the supervisor’s functions through an act of Parliament, the government breached Section 47 of the Constitution, which prescribes the procedure for amendments to entrenched positions.

(More in today’s Daily OBSERVER)