Opposition Gets Boundaries Appeal Stay In St. Kitts/Nevis

CCM’s Deputy Premier Mark Brantley, r. with enthusiastic supporters on Jan. 29, 2015.

News Americas, CHARLESTOWN, Nevis, Thurs. Jan. 30, 2015: Team Unity, a coalition of three opposition parties in the Caribbean island of St. Kitts/Nevis, was  last night celebrating a victory in the appeals court of The Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court which now allows the February 16th election to be run on the island’s old electoral boundaries.

The ruling by Justices Davidson Baptiste, Louise Blenman and Mario Micruling came two days after St. Kitts/Nevis High Court Justice, Marlene Carter, found that the signing of a proclamation by the island’s governor general, changing electoral boundaries and its subsequent gazetting on January 16th after a rush through the country’s parliament, was in order.

She had also overturned another injunction blocking use of the new boundaries pending a judicial review.

On Thursday the Eastern Caribbean Court justices allowed the injunction by the opposition, “pending the hearing and determination of the appeal” to the January 16th rushed changes.

The country’s Prime Minister Denzil Douglas had used the Carter ruling to announce a February 16th day for elections across the Federation, with February 6th being nomination day.

But the opposition team, angered by the breaking up of many of their long time constituencies and the removing of voters from their district, took their case to the EC Court and on Thursday the justices granted an interim injunction barring any action from being taken on the new constituency boundaries.

This means the February 16th election would now have to be run on the old boundary rules unless the Privy Council rules otherwise on February 9th.

Justice Carter must now begin a judicial review of the boundaries change process.

The Concerned Citizens Movement, the ruling party in Nevis and part of Team Unity, was undoubtedly energized by the news Thursday night, holding a major rally with supporters. Party leader, Premier Vance Amory, Deputy Premier Mark Brantley and other party members were among those who took the platform to celebrate the stay while urging Nevisians to vote in the upcoming federal elections.

The government for its part has convened an emergency session to consider the Court of Appeal’s decision.