No case of voter rigging
KINGSTOWN – Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves yesterday welcomed the decision of the Serious Offences Court to throw out a charge brought by the main Opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) against a candidate of the ruling Unity Labour Party (ULP) ahead of Monday’s general election.
The NDP had accused Luke Browne, the ULP representative for the East Kingstown constituency, which was represented in the last parliament by NDP leader Arnhim Eustace, of engaging in the illegal registration of voters.
“It is a historic victory . . . a vindication,” Gonsalves told reporters, adding that his interpretation of the magistrate’s decision to throw out the case was that it was nothing more than political harassment.
“She (the magistrate) can’t say that, but I can say it . . . it is political harassment of Luke Browne,” he added.
Brown had appeared at the Serious Offences Court after preliminary arguments were made by both sides on Thursday.
The court said the charges offered were not within the ambit of the law and did not hold any merit. Further it found that it could not find an interpretation in law under Section 51(A) and dismissed the charges.
The NDP, through its lawyers, have already indicated that it will appeal the ruling.
A distraction Browne told reporters that the case was intended as a distraction and he would not be intimidated.
Prime Minister Gonsalves, who is seeking a third consecutive victory at the polls, said that the “NDP . . . with the aid of neocolonialists have transformed a young man into a martyr for democracy and freedom in elections”.
He said the opposition party had sought to “knock him out without the game being played” and accused the NDP leader of saying publicly that he supported young people in the electoral race, yet taking legal action to prevent them from contesting the polls.
“You can’t say you are in support of young people in the race and the youngest man (there) you tried to do something punitive to him,” he added.
Browne has already written to the Director of Public Prosecutions to have Vynette Frederick, the NDP public relations officer, who is also contesting the elections, prosecuted after she first made the allegations during a radio programme late last month.