Constitutional crisis as court overturns election results

ST JOHN’S, Antigua, March 31, 2010 – The Antigua Labour Party (ALP) has won three out of the four petitions challenging the outcome of the March 2009 general elections, with Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer and two of his United Progressive Party (UPP) ministers out.

The ruling paves the way for either by-elections in three constituencies or a general election.

But it appears an appeal is already being prepared.

High Court Justice Louise Blenman upheld the challenges in Spencer’s St John’s Rural West constituency; St George which is represented by Education Minister Dr Jacqui Quinn-Leandro; and St John’s Rural North constituency which was won by Tourism Minister John Maginley.

The only seat that has been retained by the UPP is that of Barbuda MP Trevor Walker.

The decision was handed down by High Court just after 2 pm.

Before the ruling, the UPP had nine of the 17 seats in Parliament, the UPP-affiliated Barbuda People’s Movement had one, while the ALP held the other six.

Both the UPP and the ALP therefore now command an equal number of seats.

The UPP’s former chairman, Leon Chaku Symister who just a week ago stepped down from the position at the party’s annual conference, told local media that the country is now in a constitutional crisis.