STATEMENT BY PREMIER HON. DR RUFUS EWING ON ATTORNEY GENERAL’S CHALLENGES TO SIX SEATS IN THE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY
The Attorney General of the Turks and Caicos Islands is duly authorized to and has issued proceedings in the Supreme Court of the Turks and Caicos Islands under section 53(2) of the Constitution, challenging the veracity of the declarations of five elected members of the House of Assembly, namely Hon. Derek Taylor, Hon. Josephine Connelly, Hon. George Lightbourne, Hon. Delroy Williams and Hon. Edwin Astwood for failing to declare their interests in freehold property with a subsisting Crown charge.
If these charges are proven, then according to the statement issued by the Acting Attorney General, these elected persons will be disqualified and By-elections will have to be held for each of the vacated seats.
The Acting Attorney General has similarly filed against Ms. Amanda Missick for failing on or before nomination day, to declare her interest in freehold property with a Crown charge, as required by section 49(1)(f) of the constitution.
Proceedings have also been issued against Mr. Oral Selver by a registered voter in the Cheshire Hall/Richmond Hill Constituency, for his failure on or before nomination day, to declare his interest in a Lease hold property, as required by section 49(1)(f) of the constitution.
If either of Ms. Amanda Missick or Mr. Oral Selver is found in violation of section 49(1)(f )of the Constitution, then that person would be disqualified from being nominated and the remaining candidate would run unopposed. If both Ms. Misick and Mr. Selver are found to be in violation then both would be disqualified, and a new By-election date would have to be set. If neither is disqualified, then the By-election would proceed as planned on March 22.
The case against Ms. Missick, along with that against Mr. Selver and all other members of the House of Assembly will be heard this week.
It is unfortunate that we have found ourselves at this point when our country, political parties and candidates can ill afford the exorbitant cost associated with elections, campaigning, and court hearings. We can call these teething pains of a new Constitution and electoral system or perhaps it is the manifestation of poorly drafted laws, which in many instances are in conflict with each other. There was also an obvious lack of oversight on the part of the Integrity Commission, Elections Office and Political Parties, which might have otherwise have prevented this situation from arising.
At this time, I am calling on the Attorney General Chambers, Integrity Commission, Elections Office, Political parties and Judiciary to work diligently and all together to expeditiously resolve these issues, and to once and for all put mechanisms in place to prevent them from happening in the future. It is past time for us as a country to move beyond politics and focus instead on the business of the restoration of democracy, political stability, economic recovery and nation building.