EBC: Three COP candidates have committed no breach
By ANDRE BAGOO Friday, October 4 2013
THE ELECTIONS and Boundaries Commission (EBC) yesterday said three Congress of the People local government election candidates – against whom the PNM had raised objections – have committed no breach of the rules, and stand validly nominated.
The Commission held a meeting on the issue at Scott House, Frederick Street, Port-of-Spain, yesterday to deliberate on a complaint made by the PNM against Sookdeo Prakash Bharath; J- Lyn Roopnarine and Diane Bishop, candidates for Caura/Paradise/Tacarigua; D’Abadie/Carapo and Five Rivers/Lopinot respectively. These seats fall in the key Tunapuna/Piarco regional corporation.
In a press release on Wednesday, the PNM said the trio “falsely alleged they were membersof the COP at the time of their registration” on Nomination Day of Monday. The PNM cited EBC internal rules – EBC rules 7-13, Chapter 3 – which stated candidates must present letters from political parties confirming membership. The PNM therefore declared the seats to be theirs.
However, the EBC yesterday said this was not so.
“The three candidates...perpetrated no breach of the Elections Rules, and are thus validly nominated for the Local Government Elections contest,” the EBC said in a media release. The EBC said it is the Representation of the People Act Chap 2:01, which outlines and governs the electoral process.
This Act 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. The EBC said the rules referred to by the PNM were not law, but were administrative guidelines arising “from certain problems encountered in the past”.
“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 Elections and Boundaries Commission,” the EBC said. “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 COP chairman Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan yesterday denied the PNM’s claim that the trio were members of the UNC at the time of nomination.
Speaking at the post-Cabinet media briefing held at the Office of the Prime Minister, St Clair, Seepersad-Bachan said, “All of those candidates are members of the COP. The very three candidates objected to are members of the COP. I find it rather curious as to how this matter is raising itself.”
Seepersad-Bachan said NJAC leader Chief Servant Makandal Daaga had contested on a COP ticket in the 2010 general election.
Asked by reporters about political party rules which sometimes state a party member must be a member of the party for at least one year before contesting any election, Seepersad-Bachan said, “If that is the case then that one-year stipulation would wipe out all the nominations of a new party like the ILP which is not even one-year-old.”
The EBC took the opportunity to once more call for laws regulating in more detail the country’s electoral processes.
“The Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) continues to lobby for certain amendments to 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,” the EBC said in its press release. This officer would have, “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.”