Minister of Amerindian Affairs, Pauline Sukhai,will be sending a team to investigate a recent Chairman of Village Council election held in Orealla/Siparuta Mission, following reports of irregularities.
According to some of the residents of the community who have since retained the service of attorney-at-law Khemraj Ramjattan, the Elections held on April 28, last, was held in breach of many of the rules provided under the Law. According to Ramjattan, the deeming of John King, one of the candidates, ineligible to contest for the Chairmanship on Election Day, when on Nomination day, April 27, he was ruled eligible, by itself is sufficient to vitiate the elections and is good reason to hold fresh elections.
The triennial elections were ordered by Sukhai and according to Ramjattan, for such an order to have been issued would have meant that preliminary requirements would have been in place.
According to Ramjattan, the preliminary requirements were not in place, “and their absences obviously constitute irregularities.”
Ramjattan pointed out that under the legislation, there is a 60-day rule that will allow the compilation of the Electoral List. The time is also used to display the list at the Village Office to give time to voters to object to those names that ought not to be there, and for those to be enlisted who were not on this list. Darrel Devoir, the incumbent chairman’s grandson, and Roger Peneux, started a compilation on March 6, 2009 and Ingrid Devoir, the incumbent chairman’s grand-daughter, displayed the Electoral List on March 12, last.
According to Ramjattan, a number of eligible voters, including King, were not on that list. He pointed out that the list was subsequently amended to include King’s name among others. “Had there been the required 60-day notification, more persons would have been enlisted. This is so because of the heavy movement in and out of that village for employment purposes.
Ramjattan also noted that the Returning Officer has to give the Village Council 35 days’ notice of the date the Elections will be held ,hours and location when voting will take place.
“This was not done. As a matter of fact, what happened,was that one week before the elections; an official from the Region Six Democratic Council, went into the Village and informed the villagers of the set date for the elections”.
On Nomination Day, John King and Chairman McLean Devoir were upheld as eligible candidates for the Chairman/Toshao position.
McLean Devoir had objected to John King on grounds that he, John King, was not resident in Orealla.
John King defended his residency status and it was openly determined and publicly declared at that meeting that John King was eligible to contest.
The election objection was made by Mr. Mc Lean Devoir and a number of his team’s supporting Councillors. They posited that John King should not be eligible by virtue of not being a resident for three years prior to Nomination Day.
This newspaper has been reliably informed, that the Amerindian Affairs Minister had also obtained a legal interpretation in favour of King as it relates to his eligibility based on his residency status.
“The Elections ballot papers were shared out and it did not contain the name of John King. This obviously meant that the whole arrangement was to exclude John King as a candidate. Further, it meant also that he and his team of Councillors who had validly wanted to compete were lied to when they were told about him being a valid and eligible candidate.”
Ramjattan, in a letter to the Minister of Amerindian Affairs presented his arguments for King, and urged the Minister to deem the elections null and void and to hold fresh elections. Failing these, he will be forced to move to the courts.
“I am available and am prepared to assist in any effort to see that democracy is restored in our Amerindian Communities of Orealla and Siparuta, and in our beloved country…We had fought together for this,” said Ramjattan.
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