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UWI Guild election stalls

Saturday, April 5 2014

click on pic to zoom in
On campus: Students move about the UWI, St Augustine campus yesterday, after guild elections stalled following concerns about four candidates. ...
On campus: Students move about the UWI, St Augustine campus yesterday, after guild elections stalled following concerns about four candidates. ...

The Guild of students elections at the University of the West Indies (UWI), St Augustine campus, stalled on Thursday evening following claims that four students were ineligible candidates.

The returning officer suspended the counting of ballots after raising concerns about the four candidates.

A decision was made for the university to seek legal advice to review the Guild Constitution to determine the way forward. A meeting between the candidates and the returning officer took place yesterday. Newsday understands there may be a bye-election for the positions the four students were contesting, and the results for the other posts were valid.

Newsday was told UWI deputy principal Dr Rhoda Reddock indicated to students the returning officer brought to her attention that a number of candidates were not eligible.

This discovery, Reddock added, was made only after the election process began.

According to a student who spoke to Newsday, at about 11 pm on Thursday, students angrily resisted attempts by St Joseph police to remove filled ballot boxes hours after voting ended.

The student said the ballot counting was suspended and the returning officer made a decision to have the ballots escorted off campus by police for want of an official decision about the election’s validity.

When police attempted to remove the ballots, however, their path was blocked by student voters as well as incumbent guild councillors and candidates.

The students asserted that if the ballots were removed before being officially counted, there would be no way of verifying whether the ballots were tampered with afterward.

“They’re just taking the boxes and going somewhere with it…we were not given an official statement. I was not given an official email,” a former councillor stated. “If there were discrepancies, they’re supposed to put up a notice.

“Not by email. The notice is supposed to be put up at the voting station,” said a legal counsel for one of the candidates.

A UWI executive revealed there were challenges to this year’s guild election taking place in a fair and transparent manner and the reason for the attempt to remove the ballots was the ineligibility of some students who were running for office.

Reddock, the student added, told the gathering the reason for moving the ballots was to await a full legal review of the UWI Guild Constitution to discover an alternative to voiding the entire election.

Newsday spoke to some of the students on campus, with the majority saying they found the suspension of the counting of the ballots very unfair to the rest of the candidates and hope that it can be rectified soon.

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