Dominica Labour Party (DLP) lawyers file defence in election petition case
Lawyers for the Dominica Labour Party (DLP) have asked the court to "Strike Out" all election petition claims filed by the opposition United Workers Party (UWP) challenging the results of the December 6, 2019 general elections in ten constituencies, the SUN has been told.
But repeated attempts by the Sun to obtain court documents that DLP lawyers filed last week were unsuccessful.
In the petitions filed on December 30, 2019 a politician who won a seat at the December 06, 2019 election is being accused of having dual citizenship. Others allegedly bribed and treated their way to victory and imported voters to vote for the Dominica Labour Party (DLP), election petition court documents and a report of the opposition claim.
The UWP is challenging results of the election in Castle Bruce, Morne Jaune, Laplaine, Wesley, Roseau Central, Roseau South, Salybia, Roseau Valley, Mahaut and St. Joseph.
Court documents obtained by the Sun showed that the UWP is claiming that there were: "breach of electoral laws"; an incorrect nomination date was gazetted; objections to persons on the voters list were widespread; treating occurred such as the payment of international Reggae artiste Tarus Riley, Popcaan, Donnie McClurkin and Yolanda Adams; importation of voters; lack of access to State-owned media specifically DBS Radio; intimidation and police brutality.
A private citizen, Daria Eugene, is also petitioning Chekira Lockhart-Hypolite, the DLP candidate for Roseau South, and officials of the Electoral Commission.
Dominica held general elections on December 06, 2019; the ruling DLP won 18 of the 21 seats, giving Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit an unprecedented fourth term in office.
At their request to the court for striking out the case the DLP lawyers will probably have to argue that the claimants had no reasonable grounds to file the claim, abuse of process, and failure to comply with the Civil Procedure Rules.
"We filed our petition even before the due time," said Claimant Glenroy Cuffy of the Roseau Central constituency who is challenging the election of Mellisa Skerrit, the wife of the Prime Minister. "We await the decision of the court".
But DLP lawyer Anthony Astaphan gave a hint to some of the arguments the DLP will use against the petitions when he spoke on a recent DBS newscast.
"This election has had the greatest international and public scrutiny than any other election in Dominica's history," said Astaphan. "The issue of the diasporans being allowed to vote and the constitution gives politicians and parties the legal right to mobilize and provide transportation for their supporters is already settled."
btaining information on the DLP defence of the UWP election petitions has been frustrating, to say the least. Quoting CPR rule 3:14, the office of the Registrar of the Court refused a request for a search for the documents arguing that the Sun was not a party to the matter and only on a "Court Order" would the Registry release the documents to the newspaper. Additionally, the Chambers of Cara Shillingford, the UWP's lawyers, referred the newspaper to the UWP; the UWP's office said it did not have the document. In addition, DLP lawyer Lennox Lawrence denied a request for the document saying he would have to consult with his colleagues before he gives The Sun access to the defence.