ABEC says Barbuda election challenge is premature

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The Antigua and Barbuda Electoral Commission (ABEC) is challenging the authority of a judge to hear a recently filed election related application by the leader of the Barbuda People’s Movement, Trevor Walker, and his attorney Charlesworth Tabor.
A week ago, the duo asked the court to grant an interim injunction to stop the commission from conducting the elections at a polling division based in Antigua as opposed to doing it in the constituency of Barbuda.
The injunction application was set to be heard yesterday, but, moments before the hearing commenced, the commission presented Walker and Tabor with an application of its own.
In that application, the commission’s lawyer, Patricia Simon-Forde outlined, “Before the substantive matter is dealt with, a preliminary point which would affect the jurisdiction of this honourable court to hear this matter, must be raised.”
The application continued saying, “This relates to whether the issue before this court to restrain the members of the electoral commission by injunction, from conducting the general elections for Barbuda on the island of Antigua, is an election matter within the confines of Section 44 of the Representation of the People Act Cap 379. And, if it is so determined to be an election matter, then the appropriate action by any party aggrieved, would be to commence action on petition after the general election has been held.”
Tabor said he was “blind-sided” by this response and was given time by the court to file his counter arguments.
He told OBSERVER media, “She is saying the court does not have the jurisdiction to hear the matter and that the application is premature because I should wait for outcome to file a petition, but that is incorrect.”
It is his view that Simon-Forde is misinterpreting the definition of the words “at an election” in the Representation of the People Act.
Simon-Forde’s definition states that “at an election” means “that period of time beginning with the issue of the Writ of Election and ending with the return of the said Writ in accordance with the said provisions of this Act.”
Tabor said that it is because of this, the commission’s lawyer believes that he (Tabor) and Walker should wait for the entire election process to be completed and then challenge the election by way of a petition.
(More in today’s Daily Observer)

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