PPP will file appeal in boundaries demarcation case
Dear Editor, The PPP wishes to express its disappointment on the ruling handed down by Justice Gino Persaud, in the legal challenge filed by Bibi Shadick, a Commissioner of GECOM. This case along with others that have been filed, were done so with the sole objective of protecting our democratic process, strengthening our electoral machinery and safeguarding our citizens’ right to vote and to engender consultation with and participation of the citizens of our country in the electoral decision making process.
Unfortunately, thus far, we have been unable to persuade the Judiciary that important violations are taking place in relation to the Constitution and our electoral laws, which threaten the very democratic foundations upon which this nation rests. Although, evidence was produced that Minister Ronald Bulkan adopted a particular course of action in relation to identification of Local Authority Areas, the demarcation of boundaries and the allocation of seats for each constituency for the Local Government Elections of 2015, as he is mandated to do by law, but that he failed to follow that very process in respect of the 2018 elections, the learned Judge found nothing wrong with this departure. Having found that the Minister acted in accordance with the law the learned Judge omitted to determine a number of important issues raised in the case, including:
1. Whether the Chief Election Officer can create new constituencies in existing NDCs areas without consulting with either the electors or the political parties;
2. Whether the Chief Election Officer at his own whim and fancy can merge existing constituencies and add constituencies within existing NDCs when their impact clearly create an electoral advantage in favour of one political party and to the disadvantage of other political parties, without consulting with the electors, the political parties or any organization or stakeholder whatsoever.
3. Whether the Chief Election Officer acted on his own or carried out the directions of the Minister in the alteration of these constituencies and whether the process followed by the Chief Election Officer, in so doing, was lawful.
These were some of the fundamental issues which we expected pronouncements on for future guidance. Unfortunately, these issues were not addressed by the court in the oral decision delivered. However, we pledge to continue to persevere relentlessly in our struggles to protect our citizens’ right to vote and indeed the democratic process as a whole. Certainly, we will file an Appeal against this ruling.
Yours faithfully, Zulfikar Mustapha Executive Secretary People’s Progressive Party