Judge allows stay in election petition judgement

ST JOHN’S, Antigua, March 31, 2010 – The Baldwin Spencer government will remain intact, for the time being, despite a High Court judge ruling in favour of the opposition Antigua Labour Party in three election petitions.

Justice David Harris has granted a stay in the judgement delivered by Justice Louise Blenman who earlier in the day 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 the St John’s Rural North constituency which was won by Tourism Minister John Maginley.

“Everything remains the same. The government is still intact”.               –Leon Chaku Symister

The fourth challenge against the election of Barbuda MP Trevor Walker, who is also Public Works Minister, was dismissed. 

Justice Harris has given the ALP until April 16th to challenge the stay which he granted.

“Everything remains the same. The government is still intact. Winston Baldwin Spencer is still the Prime Minister. Nothing has changed because the judgement that was issued has been stayed,” Leon Chaku Symister, who was one of the UPP’s attorneys in the election case, announced around 5 pm.

“We will file our notice of appeal with the grounds of appeal and we will seek before the Court of Appeal a permanent stay pending the April 16 decision.”

Symister had earlier said that the country had a constitutional crisis as a result of Justice Blenman’s ruling. However, Attorney General Justin Simon later said that was not the case.

Justice Blenman’s ruling was based on the late opening of polls on the March 12th, 2009 Election Day.

Although the ALP had argued that there was corruption on the part of the UPP, the judge put the blame for the situation squarely on the shoulders of electoral officials and said there was nothing to suggest any wrongdoing by the UPP candidates.

The ALP, meanwhile, is savouring the victories and declaring it will soon be leading the country.

Chairman and deputy political leader Gaston Browne has called on Spencer not to frustrate the process, but instead accept Justice Blenman’s judgement.