Deputy G-G denies Bird’s request
ST JOHN’S, Antigua, CMC – Deputy Governor General Sir Eustace Francis has turned down a request from Opposition Leader Lester Bird seeking a meeting to discuss the report of a Tribunal that examined allegations against three members of the island’s Electoral Commission (ABEC).
In a brief response to Bird’s letter, the acting Head of State said that the Governor General Dame Louise Lake Tack had to leave the island soon after the three member Tribunal had submitted its report.
He said “due to previous overseas engagements she had to leave the state almost immediately and had no time to consider the findings and recommendations of the report.”
The Deputy Governor General also promised that Dame Louis would study the report upon her return “and upon completion, deliver a public address to the nation and submit copies to the relevant persons”.
Dame Louise Lake Tack had set up the tribunal at the request of Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer over what he termed were breaches of the electoral laws allegedly committed by Commission Chairman, Sir Gerald Watt QC, his deputy Nathaniel James and Lionel “Max” Hurst.
In his letter, the Prime Minister said the breaches included the delayed opening of polling stations at the March 12, 2009 general election, a severely tainted voters’ list and that citizens are entitled to have an Electoral Commission that is capable of exercising its functions under the law.
He noted that on Election Day it became clear within hours of the start of voting that the Commission was not ready or able to conduct the elections as required by law and expected by the people of the state
In a radio broadcast over the weekend, Bird had called on the Office of the Governor General to issue the report or face the possibility of having the matter taken before the courts.
In his letter to the Deputy Governor General, Bird argued that the “matter is of grave importance to the nation, its people, the system of democracy, and the reputations of the three professionals who have been humiliated by a public suspension, (and) it is imperative that the Report and Recommendations of the Tribunal be shared forthwith with the Leader of the Opposition.” (CMC)