Who is behind the New Political Chaos in Turks and Caicos Islands?

MEDIA STATEMENT BY ACTING ATTORNEY GENERAL RHONDALEE BRAITHWAITE-KNOWLES ON CHALLENGES AGAINST MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT

“Separate and apart from the confidential declaration required to made to the Integrity Commission under the Integrity Commission Ordinance by a person in public life, the Constitution requires a candidate for election, on nomination day to make a declaration that he or she is qualified for election and that no disqualification mentioned in section 49(1) of the Constitution applies to him or her. In addition, section 49(1)(f) of the Constitution requires such a candidate to notify the Integrity Commission, prior to nomination day, of the existence of any contract between that candidate and the Government. Failure to so notify the Integrity Commission would result in a candidate being disqualified to stand in an election.

“Following receipt of copies of the section 49(1)(f) Notices and related correspondence supplied to me by the TCI Integrity Commission and having caused background research to be undertaken in the Lands Division of the Chambers, I have come to the conclusion that I should act under section 50(3) of the Constitution, and today a challenge to the veracity of the declaration made by Ms. Amanda Missick, PNP candidate for the upcoming by-election in the Cheshire Hall and Richmond Hill Electoral District on 22 March 2013 has been filed before the Supreme Court.

“On the basis of the background research undertaken I have also come to the conclusion that the election of certain sitting members of the House of Assembly should be challenged under section 53(2) of the Constitution. In that regard, challenges have also been filed today before the Supreme Court challenging the elections of Mr George Lightbourne elected member in the House of Assembly for the Grand Turk North Electoral District; Mr. Edwin Astwood elected member in the House of Assembly for the Grand Turk, South Electoral District; Mr. Derek Taylor member in the House of Assembly for the All Islands Electoral District; Mrs. Josephine Connolly elected member in the House of Assembly for the All Islands Electoral District and Delroy Williams elected member in the House of Assembly for the Wheeland Electoral District.

“The basis of each of these challenges is that when each of the individuals made their section 50(1) Nomination Day declaration to the Supervisor of Elections for the 9th November 2012 General Election and the upcoming 22nd March 2013 by-election, a disqualification mentioned in section 49(1)(f) applied to each them in that each of them has a contract with the Government which, by that date, they had not given notice of to the Integrity Commission, as required by section 49(1)(f) of the Constitution. The type of contract in each case is a charge to secure the payment to the Crown of a “Belonger Discount” (applicable under the Crown Land Policy) in the event of a sale in prescribed circumstances.

“I have asked the Court to determine whether in each case, the individual is or is not qualified to be an elected member of the House considering the failure to give notice of the respective charges.

“The Constitution provides for a process for challenge in each of these cases in the public interest. If the Court determines that each member is disqualified then,

a) In the case of Ms. Missick, she will not be able to stand for election on 22nd March and the sole remaining candidate will be declared elected;

b) In the case of the members of the House of Assembly, their seats will be vacated and a by-election will have to be called. A decision on their disqualification would not prevent them from standing in a subsequent by-election called as a result.

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