(Antigua Observer) Leader of the main opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) Arnhim Eustace says lawyers will return to the courts next Monday as they seek access to certain electoral documents, ahead of election petitions to be filed by the party in January.
“A team of lawyers, working for we the people, spent the entire day in court on Tuesday fighting our cause,” Eustace said in a radio and television broadcast here on Wednesday night.
He said the lawyers will continue to do their work over the holidays and return to court on Monday.
“We are fighting diligently for transparency and accountability as related to the vote. The Electoral Office, on the one hand, claiming to have administered over a free and fair election, is fighting nonetheless to ensure that there is no disclosure.”
Eustace said that the NDP wants the opportunity to inspect, among other things, the ballots that were cast in Central Leeward, where the NDP contents that its candidate won even though Deputy Prime Minister Sir Louis Straker was declared winner by more than 300 votes.
The Unity Labour Party (ULP) of Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves won the December 9 general elections by an 8-7 margin, mirroring the same results of the 2010 general election.
In his broadcast, Eustace said that while the “so-called government” will hear from the NDP in the courts, it must also hear from “we the people in the streets”.
The NDP has held protest action outside the Electoral Office in Kingstown since the elections but called off its demonstration until after the Christmas observances.
Eustace, 70, said that in the coming days the NDP is coming together with people from all walks of life “to send a clear message to this so-called Unity Labour Party government, that we will not, and shall not accept any attempt to subvert the expression of the will of the people.
“The struggle is about the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines — we the people. This struggle is about restoring integrity in our land. This struggle is about sending the right message to our youth. This is a battle for the soul of the nation and the fight to save our collective conscience. One thing we accept is that undeniable fact that a people united can never be defeated,” said Eustace, who led the NDP to its fourth consecutive electoral defeat, according to the official results.
Eustace did not refer to any person in particular in his address on Wednesday when he said the NDP has “leaders throughout the community mobilising the people as we speak.
“And many of them will be in touch with you within the next few hours and days about what responsible actions we must take to ensure that this illegitimate government give account of its actions.
“Let the message go out that our reservations about these elections stand, that we continue to refuse to accept the results, and that we will continue to fight against this injustice on many fronts.
“The resolve of we the people must be absolutely clear in this matter,” Eustace said.
In his address Eustace reiterated that opposition legislators will be sworn into office on Tuesday “strictly for technical legal reasons”.
He said that while NDP MPs wanted to stay away from the opening of the new Parliament, the party’s lawyers have advised that the duly elected members on the NDP’s side “must attend and be sworn in”.
“This, they have advised, is strictly for technical legal reasons; and should in no way be seen as a contradiction to our stance,” Eustace said.
Eustace had announced on December 12 that the elected NDP candidates would stay away from Parliament because doing so would indicate that they have accepted the election results.
But he recanted that position Wednesday night for the second time this week, adding that after the swearing-in, NDP MPs will hold the “so-called government” to account
“It was our desire to stay away from the very beginning. But we have listened to our lawyers and to many patriotic Vincentians on this issue.
“Once we are officially sworn in as MPs, rest assured that we have appropriate ways to ensure that this so-called government accounts to we the people.
“As we go forward, be wary of attempts to divide the community on this issue,” said Eustace.