The People’s Progressive Party (PPP) on Wednesday asserted that it’s support lies with the recent act by the PPP’s GECOM Commissioner, Bibi Shadick to take Government to court over what they termed “a vulgar conspiracy to gerrymander” the upcoming Local Government Elections.
“As part of its continued struggle to secure the democratic gains won in 1992, with the restoration of democracy to this land after decades of rigged elections under the PNC, the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) supports legal proceedings to be filed to protect the democratic rights of electors voting at the November 12, Local Government Elections (LGE),” the Party said in a press statement on Wednesday.
According to the PPP, Communities Minister, Ronald Bulkan and the Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield failed to observe a number of legal procedures laid down in the law and did not hold consultations with communities, nor any major political party before they “clandestinely created a number of new Neighborhood Democratic Councils (NDC) and the Municipality of Mahdia.”
“…they unlawfully demarcated new boundaries and established seats in these new Local Democratic Organs, without providing any reasons or stating the principles or criteria, upon which they did so. Additionally, they unlawfully altered the number of seats and internal boundaries within existing Local Democratic Organs, again, without following the requisite statutory procedure, without any consultation whatsoever with the electors and the major political parties, likely to contest the November 12 LGE.”
In addition, the PPP noted that when these changes are closely examined, it is easy to arrive at the conclusion that the Government’s actions are aimed a creating an electoral advantage in favour of the coalition Administration.
“Our public pleas for these violations of the law and unfair manipulation of the Local Government Organs and boundaries to be corrected, both to the Minister and to the Chief Elections Officer, at various platforms, have been ignored. In the circumstances, we have been forced to resort to legal proceedings,” the PPP maintains.
As such, they have expressed their dismissal of Bulkan’s response that he acted lawfully and legally.
“We further reject his outrageous contention that the Government is interested in involving and empowering the people in the management and development of their communities. Indeed, were this so, then Bulkan would have ensured that the people had an opportunity to participate meaningfully in the process by which new Local Democratic Organs were created, their memberships altered, and boundaries modified and would have also complied with the legal procedures laid down for so doing. Instead, these decisions were made and executed surreptitiously and the people in the communities and their political parties were deliberately excluded from this process, hence, the legal proceedings.”
To this end, Bulkan is being called upon to concede to the legal proceedings and swiftly correct the legal deficiencies.
“…If they fail to do so and proceed to those elections under the current legally fraud arrangements, they expose those elections to the risk of being declared legally flawed, null and void, which would require fresh elections at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars to the taxpayers. It is our sincere hope that good sense prevails.”
Earlier this week, PPP Member and GECOM Commissioner, Shadick filed a legal challenge in the High Court to halt the Minister’s move even as Bulkan maintained that everything he did was above board.
Former Attorney General Anil Nandlall filed the Fixed Date Application (FDA) on her behalf.
Nandlall told reporters on Monday that the PPP’s action is not geared at delaying the entire Local Government Elections set for November 12 but rather; elections in the contested Neighbourhood Democratic Councils (NDC) could be rescheduled until the outcome of the court case.