EBC: Trio broke no rules
The Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) is upholding the validity of the nominations of three candidates whose eligibility has being questioned by the People’s National Movement (PNM).
“The three candidates—Sookdeo Prakash Bharath, J-Lyn Roopnarine and Diane Bishop—who submitted nomination documents (nomination papers and statutory declarations) to represent the electoral districts, respectively, of Caura/Paradise/Tacarigua, D’Abadie/Carapo and Five Rivers/Lopinot perpetrated no breach of the election rules and are thus validly nominated for the local government elections contest,” the EBC stated in a release yesterday.
The EBC issued the release clarifying the recent assertion by the PNM that the candidacy of three UNC members who are contesting the elections as members of the Congress of the People (COP) was invalid and in violation of the EBC rules.
The EBC said the Representation of the People Act Chapter 2:01 which outlines and governs the electoral process stipulates in Election Rules 7-8 the requirements that prospective candidates submit to the returning officer, their nomination paper and a statutory declaration of his/her qualifications.
However as an additional administrative measure, the release said, arising from certain problems encountered in the past relating to the nomination of election candidates, the EBC requests that prospective party candidates, on Nomination Day, submit letters from the respective political party confirming his/her membership and stating that he/she is a candidate for the electoral district.
It said such administrative guidelines, as that, quoted by the PNM in its media release, can be found in the administrative Handbook for Returning Officers and Election Clerks, prepared by the EBC.
“These administrative guidelines are not law, but as there are no legal provisions dealing with political parties, they assist in effecting successful election management,” the release stated.
It added that the EBC continues to lobby for certain amendments to the Representation of the People Act, including the creation of a law governing the registration of political parties whose provisions would include a nominating political/party officer with “responsibility for the arrangements for the submission of bona fide representatives of a party of lists of names of election candidates and for approval of description of party symbols and use of such symbols on ballot papers”.
The EBC stated that in the circumstances, the three candidates did not violate the rules and are properly nominated.
Yesterday, PNM spokesmen wanted to know if there was one set of rules for the PNM and another for other parties.
PNM officers said the party was still analysing this situation with its legal team. They insisted the three candidates were UNC members going up for COP seats, which was against the election rules.
PNM spokesmen also pointed that the Returning Officer refused to approve the nomination for one of their candidates for the Princes Town Corporation, unless there was a letter saying that the candidate was a financial member.
“A person had to drive from Princes Town to Balisier House because the EBC insisted they were not going to qualify him unless he produced the letter from the PNM,” one official stated yesterday. “So the EBC appears to the inconsistent in its application of the rules,” the official added.
COP chairman Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan insisted on Thursday that all the COP candidates were members of that party.
Pointing out that NJAC leader Makandal Daaga contested the 2010 elections on a COP ticket and MSJ leader Errol McLeod contested under the UNC banner, Seepersad-Bachan nevertheless maintained that all candidates running under the COP symbol were members of the COP.