ST JOHN’S, Antigua – The Antigua Labour Party (ALP) is playing true to form, with Political Leader Gaston Browne announcing yesterday the party will seek to stop the voter re-registration exercise.
“We are going to court to stop the de-registration. What they are trying to do is take a number of Commonwealth citizens off the list,” Browne told OBSERVER media.
The ALP leader’s pronouncement follows similar notice to Chairman of the Electoral Commission Juno Samuel in a letter dated July 4. It, however, comes as no surprise to the ruling United Progressive Party (UPP). Chairman Leon Chaku Symister has called the move predictable.
Among other claims, Browne accused Samuel of “evident bias,” which he said the ALP will test in the courts.
Browne said his party is already testing the legitimacy of several amendments to the electoral law, which were made in 2011.
The City West MP said he takes issue with, among other factors, the requirement for non-nationals to show proof of legal residency in the state for at least seven years.
Browne is alleging that the new eligibility criteria is “aimed exclusively at a group of registered voters whom the governing party seeks to disenfranchise.”
He also contends that the proviso of seven years for residents should only be applicable to first-time registrants.
Deputy Chairman of the Electoral Commission Nathaniel “Paddy” James, an ALP nominee, shares Browne’s views, and told OBSERVER the re-registration exercise scheduled to start at the end of the month is unnecessary.
(More in today’s Daily OBSERVER)