The Silly Season is Here - August 29, 2005
The Silly Season is Here
If one needed any reminder that we are entering the silly season, the sitting
of the House of Assembly on Tuesday, August 6, 2005 certainly provided it. That
sitting was not without its usual theatre and drama. The Speaker of the House,
Honourable Baden Allain, announced that he and the Member of Parliament for
Castries Central, Mrs. Sarah Flood-Beaubrun, had jointly reviewed the tapes of
the 2005/2006 Budget Debate to ascertain whether I made certain statements
alleged by Mrs. Flood Beaubrun during the closing session of the Budget Debate.
He concluded that Mrs. Sarah Flood-Beaubrun had indeed misrepresented the
statements which I had made. The Speaker invited the Castries Central MP to
apologize and withdraw her statements. As expected, she refused. Predictably,
she chose to leave the House only to later cry foul, and allege that a
deliberate attempt had been made to silence her from speaking against the
amendments to the Election Act to introduce scrutineers to monitor the
enumeration of voters.
How can Mrs. Flood-Beaubrun’s decision to leave the House be interpreted as a deliberate attempt by the Government to silence the Castries Central MP as she now claims? The decision by the Castries Central MP to leave the House was not a consequence of whether or not she indeed misrepresented what I said during the Budget Debate. Rather, it was a direct consequence of Mrs. Flood-Beaubrun’s refusal to abide by the Speaker’s ruling. The only person responsible for silencing Mrs. Flood-Beaubrun, is Mrs. Flood-Beaubrun herself.
A FREE AND FAIR ELECTION
The Government is aware that a clean voters’ registration list is central to
fair and democratic elections. The Government of the Saint Lucia Labour Party is
also aware that before the next General Election is called, it is vitally
important that all the necessary steps are taken to ensure that the election is
free, fair and reflects the genuine wishes of the voters.
But there are other fundamental reasons why this enumeration exercise must be
done and must be done now. Since 1979 no comprehensive review of the voters list
has ever been done notwithstanding that on numerous occasions the Saint Lucia
Labour Party, while in opposition, called for the list to be scrapped. In the
past and especially during the periods leading up to a general election, the
voters’ registration list has been periodically updated.
Why should scrutineers, a mechanism which is designed to safeguard the
integrity of the enumeration process be elevated to a bone of contention? Well,
it is alleged that the Government plans to rig the next general elections and
the scrutineer system is the tool which will be employed to do so. Ask yourself
this simple question: Would any Government, which intends to rig an election,
invite individuals including Opposition representatives to observe a process by
which it intends to defraud the electorate of their democratic and
constitutional right? How absurd we can we get!
Scrutineers will be appointed mainly as observers in the enumeration process.
As explained, the number of scrutineers that will be appointed will be 88, one
for every polling station. You may be asking why 88 when we only have 86 polling
stations. This is because two of the polling stations are too large to have only
one scrutineer. The main function of the scrutineers will be to accompany the
enumerators to the polling divisions to which they have been assigned. They will
also be expected to sign Certificates of Enumeration issued by enumerators
during the house-to house exercise. However, they are not to interfere in the
process. Complaints and irregularities are to be recorded and reported to the
Furthermore, it is not enough for the MP for Castries Central to make
reference to the various systems which have been adopted and used in other parts
of the region. The systems of scrutineers employed in these countries may have
been informed by the peculiarities of those political systems. For example, in
Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago race is a very important political consideration
and would have influenced the manner in which scrutineers were appointed.
Similarly, the nature of the political system would also be important. In Guyana
where a proportional system of Government obtains as opposed to a first past the
post system, different considerations may have been given as to how the
scrutineers were selected.
It would do Mrs. Flood-Beaubrun well to remember that she won the Castries
Central seat on a Labour Party ticket. She did not win Castries Central on a ONE
ticket. She did so using the resources and structure provided by the Saint Lucia
Labour Party. In fact, the honourable thing for Mrs. Flood-Beaubrun to have done
once she parted company with the Labour Party, was to resign her seat in
Parliament and put herself through a by-election. It is only then she would have
known whether she had successfully transferred the Labour Party votes which she
won in 2001 onto herself or ONE. But to do this without the consent of the
voters of Castries Central was unfair and an abuse of their trust and loyalty.
In any event this may well be “water under the bridge” since the issue will soon
So, fellow Saint Lucians, the scrutineers are there only to uphold the
integrity of the process. The process is not intended to create an unfair
advantage for any political party; it is intended rather to uphold and protect
the democratic process and your constitutional right to a free and fair
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