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Opposition files Injunction to halt boundaries changes

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St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN):  Opposition MPs have filed an injunction to stop the implementation of proposed changes to the constituency boundaries.

“The order was against the Governor General which restrains him from relying on the report of the Constituency Boundaries Commission whether directly or indirectly, and restrains him from making any proclamation to effect the boundaries changes,” Lead Counsel for the claimants Constance Mitcham told WINN FM Monday morning.

Lawyers for the claimants are asking for a judicial review of the procedure used in preparing the recommendations.  

Ms Mitcham said Monday that they have 48 hours to file their submissions which include their claims that the Constituency Boundaries Commission asked the parties for recommendations without giving relevant information on proposals so informed decisions could be made.  They will also argue that the Commission refused information from experts appointed by the claimants, and will challenge the way in which the boundaries were realigned.

“Things like splitting the town of Sandy Point in two…basically leaving the Leader of PAM without a seat, because his seat has just been eliminated.”

The claimants are Opposition MPs Mark Brantley, Eugene Hamilton, Timothy Harris and Shawn Richards.  

According to Ms Mitcham Opposition MP Sam Condor fully supports the move of his colleague, but explained that his constituency will not be affected by the proposed changes.  She said as Opposition MP Vance Amory was a member of the Constituency Boundaries Commission, which is named in the matter, it would not have been appropriate for him to be a claimant.

Mr. Amory served as an Opposition Member of the CBC along with fellow Opposition Senator Vincent Byron Junior.  The two government Members are Marcella Liburd and Dr. Asim Martin, the Deputy Prime Minister.  The civilian Commission Chairperson, appointed by the Governor General is Mr. Peter Jenkins. 

Meantime, The Opposition continued its boycott of the Federal Parliament on Monday. 

“We continue to challenge the legitimacy of the Denzil Douglas Administration and in our view the government continued to function without the appropriate constitutional basis,” Leader of the People’s Labour Party Dr. Timothy Harris told WNN FM on Monday.

“We see the convened of Parliament without the tabling and debate of the Motion of No Confidence as abuse of executive power.”

A Motion of No Confidence was filed by the Opposition in December of last year, and a second one filed it July.

Dr. Harris said Monday that the attempt to table the boundaries change report was ‘salt in the wound’ of the elected majority seeking to have the Motions of No Confidence brought before the House.

“We continue to believe that it is highly irresponsible and setting the boundaries for instability in this country, for the Prime Minister to arrogate onto himself the right to change the boundaries at this time when he does not command the support of the majority of MPs.

The Boundaries Commission Report recommending changes to the Constituency boundaries was approved following a meeting of the CBC last Thursday.  Government Member Marcella Liburd confirmed its approval and told WINN FM before the start of Parliament Monday that she was expecting that the report would be tabled.

Such a report would be presented as a resolution and so would not necessarily appear on the Order Paper.  It would only need to be tabled, assented to by the Governor General and gazetted for its recommendations to take effect.

In 2009, MP Shawn Richards filed an injunction prohibiting the tabling of a Boundaries Commission Report that sought to make changes to the constituency delineations. 

The Prime Minister's decision to table the Report after the judge had ordered otherwise, lead to a headline-grabbing court battle that saw the filing of subsequent injunctions, a judge being asked to recuse himself, the Prime Minister giving court testimony and a Contempt of Court filing against the Attorney General.

Click below to hear interview with Lead Counsel for the Claimants in the ijunction matter, Ms Constance Mitcham

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Click below to hear statement by PLP Leader Dr. Timothy Harris on behalf of the Federal Opposition about the continued boycott of Parliament and the decision to file the injunction

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