THE LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION writes to Commissioner Juno Samuel

OFFICE OF THE LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION
Corner of Market & South Streets
St. John’s, Antigua
Tel #: 268 562 5401 / 720-7347

July 4 2013

Commissioner Juno Samuel
Antigua and Barbuda Electoral Commission (ABEC)
Queen Elizabeth Highway
St. John’s, ANTIGUA

Re: The Renewal of Registration Cards and Planned De-Registration

Dear Commissioner Samuel,

I take note of your public pronouncement, made two days ago or on July 2, 2013, indicating that—as the soon-to-be lawful Chairman of ABEC—you intend to commence “re-registration” immediately following the passage into law of the ABEC (Validating) Act 2013. The Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party (ABLP) objects to your announced plan; it was hatched by Minister Baldwin Spencer and is to be carried-out by his agents on the Commission. Its singular objective is to remove approximately ten thousand eligible and registered voters from the Register of Elections, the overwhelming majority of whom are to be Commonwealth citizens.

The amendments to the Representation of the People (Amendment) Act 2011 have been wrongly interpreted by you, Sir, to mean that those whose names appear on the latest Register, will all be required to re-register utilizing the more onerous criteria which the newly validated law imposes upon Commonwealth citizens. According to you, those persons whose names appear on the latest Register will not be accorded their constitutional right to remain registered. They will be “de-registered” and subjected to new eligibility criteria when re-registering. That interpretation offends constitutional guarantees and is further aimed exclusively at a group of registered voters whom the governing party seeks to disenfranchise. That object has not been concealed; yet, it is unlawful and unconstitutional.

The ABLP insists that only those potential electors who are—for the very first time—applying for inclusion on the Register after the law becomes effective, can lawfully and constitutionally be subjected to the more onerous requirements. It is the ABLP’s intention to test your evident bias in the courts. Several new amendments to the 2011 law are already before the courts, testing their legitimacy.

The ABLP further objects to your announced plan to commence “re-registration” at a time when the boundaries of the 16 constituencies on Antigua have not been finalized. It makes no sense to start the process and then be compelled to transfer-out and transfer-in thousands of electors who would have presented themselves, at various registration units across Antigua, for registration. The ABEC seems to be in a state of great confusion.

I also demand that you comply with the statutory requirement and publish a June 30 2013 Register for Elections. The ABEC has failed in its statutory duty to publish the Register, and it has not offered any explanations to the interested parties. Please make available the Register immediately!

I encourage you to give attention to your paid-for duties; and, I look forward to announcements of compliance with these lawful demands.

Respectfully,

Hon. Gaston Browne M.P.
Leader of the Opposition &
Political Leader of the ABLP

copy: Nathaniel James, Chairman (Ag.)