UK privy council overturns St Kitts and Nevis boundary changes ahead of polls

St Kitts and Nevis has been thrown into political turmoil following a British judicial decision to strike down new electoral regulations a few days before the state’s general election, the UK Guardian reported yesterday

Five British justices sitting on the judicial committee of the privy council in London overturned the introduction of fresh constituency boundaries ahead of the poll, which is scheduled for Monday. The elections will now be held using the old electoral boundaries.

The emergency hearings at the privy council were streamed live on the internet and were also broadcast on local radio stations in St Kitts and Nevis, the Guardian said. The Labour party government had introduced the electoral constituencies by proclamation on 16 January, exactly a month before the scheduled vote. The opposition, however, claimed the proclamation was not correctly gazette, the Guardian reported. The opposition had also said the new boundaries would also give government candidates an unfair advantage, and they launched a legal challenge. Local courts dismissed their appeals.

The privy council’s ruling declared: “It is determined and ordered that the list to be used in the … election is and shall be that existing prior to the proclamation …. purportedly issued and published by the governor general. Any effect which the said proclamation would continue otherwise to have, whether in relation to any other election or otherwise, is hereby suspended until further order.”

Mark Brantley, the opposition politician who launched the legal challenge, told local media last week: “I don’t think it’s a losing battle; it’s a function of using the court system provided by the constitution in order to get a final pronouncement as to what we consider to have been a travesty that occurred on the 16 January.”

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