Former prime minister urges opposition to end challenge to election defeat

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KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent, Mar 1, CMC – Former prime minister Sir James Mitchell is urging the main opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) to end its legal challenge of the 2015 general elections.
The NDP lost the polls by an 8-7 margin and Sir James, who founded the party in 1975, said the challenge to the results is one of the points of contention between him and the party.
“In my book, as I have said before and I will say it again: elections are won on election night,” Sir James said on a radio programme here on Tuesday.
 “Name me the time that elections were won in the court. It doesn’t happen,” said Sir James, who in 2010 said that he does not trust even Jesus Christ with an election until the results are announced.
Sir James led the NDP shortly after its founding in 1975 until October 2000, five months before elections in March 2001, which the party lost.
The NDP is challenging the results of the election in Central Leeward and North Windward and the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court of Appeal  is expected to sit in St. Lucia next Tuesday to hear the appeal of the decision of the High Court here to throw out the election petitions as improperly filed.
The ruling Unity Labour Party (ULP) of Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves won a fourth consecutive term in office by winning eight of the 15 seats in the December 2015 poll, the same results of 2010.
Sir James  told radio listeners that he has he has been an international observer of elections and that he  understands that in the election in Central Leeward, the NDP agents signed on to the results in the various polling stations.
“The second day, there was a final count and the duly authorised agent or the candidate himself signed on with the final count,” he said, adding that to overturn an election in the court, evidence is required to the extent that that evidence would have affected the results.
“Because, number one, the privacy of the ballot has to remain intact, otherwise the democratic processes collapse. And who in St. Vincent, as an agent, would go before the court, facing a battery of lawyers, swear by Almighty God that you will speak the whole truth and then give evidence of election fraud, knowing that if you don’t come right and lying to the court is jail for you? — Not for the candidate.
“Why should a party want to put its agents in that peril when it had already signed on to the results,” Sir James said, even as he acknowledged that he had no idea how the Appeal Court will rule.
 “But one thing I know, the courts can’t say is that ULP lost the seat and when you are finished an election, in my book, number one, you have to concede defeat.”
He said that even in sports the losing player or team congratulates each other, expect in boxing — because the loser is “down on the ground and he can’t move”.
He said leader must also take responsibility for the defeat.
Sir James aid that when he was speaking at the last convention before elections in St. Lucia, he called on Allen Chastanet, leader of the then opposition United Workers Party (UWP) to announce publicly that if he led the party to defeat he would offer to resign the same night.
The UWP won and Chastanet is now Prime Minister of St. Lucia.
Sir James noted that his successor, Member of Parliament for East Kingstown, Arnhim Eustace — who has since exited the leadership of the NDP — lost four elections.
“Did he concede defeat every time? Did he offer to resign every time? Look at the traditions of politics. You see, my problem with a lot of people, I am at heart a democrat and I want the democratic process to thrive in this country.
“I don’t mind people having success, because I know how to defeat them,” said Sir James, who campaigned with the NDP in 2001, 2005 and 2010, when it also lost.

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