A small political party seeking to contest three seats in the upcoming general election has threatened to attempt to obtain an injunction to postpone the August 10 polls if special arrangements are not put in place to allow one of its prospective candidates, who is stranded abroad, to submit his nomination papers.
In a pre-action protocol letter issued on Tuesday to Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley, attorney Kenneth Munroe Brown, leader of the Unrepresented People’s Party (UPP), questioned National Security Minister Stuart Young’s handling of several applications made by the party’s chairman Bishop Ronald De Verteuil, who is currently stranded in South Africa due to COVID-19 pandemic travel restrictions.
“Sadly, we have instructions before us which suggest that the Minister either ignored, refused, disregarded or overlooked our client’s application to the point where his chances of meeting the Nomination Day deadline of July 17, 2020, are at best slim, if not, given the practicalities of distance, time and place unattainable,” Brown said.
Pointing out that Young had facilitated requests for People’s National Movement (PNM) and United National Congress (UNC) candidates who were also stranded abroad due to the border closure, Brown called on Rowley to speak with the Election and Boundaries Commission and Opposition leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar so that he (De Verteuil) register remotely or after today’s nomination deadline.
“Counsel has advised that your Minister has an abiding and unshakeable duty to respond to our client’s application and given recent precedents, a right to provide our client with the exemption on the basis of legitimate expectations, to allow him to enter into our Republic and under quarantine for a period of seven years,” Brown said.
Brown suggested that if the request is not facilitated the party will consider taking the proposed legal action to postpone the election.
“In the premises, we trust that given the prevailing and extenuating circumstances, you will use your great wisdom and sagacity (as was displayed during a time of COVID-19), to avoid a long drawn-out court battle with risks that the result of at least one seat, being voided by the Supreme Court,” he said. In the letter, Brown noted that De Verteuil, who also serves as United Front for African Development president, was expected to contest a seat and manage the party’s campaign and election machinery. The party plans to contest the Port-of-Spain/St Ann’s West, Tobago East and Tabaquite seats.
Guardian Media understands that Brown did not receive a response up to late yesterday.