REAL NEWS: The United Progressive Party is still seeking clarity on the number of days remaining before the by-election in St. Mary’s South can be called.
The Party had indicated, earlier, that it had received information that ABEC is not counting down on a day-to-day basis, but is excluding weekends and public holidays.
Reportedly, a member of the Commission had appeared in the media and said that it was counting from the date that the Speaker of the House had received former MP Kelvin “Shugy” Simon’s resignation letter.
Simon tendered his resignation from the House of Representatives on June 7, but the Speaker apparently received it the following day, June 8.
Symister says that, based on the strict count specified in the Constitution of Antigua and Barbuda, some 46 days have passed since Simon resigned, leaving 74 days by which the election must be held.
He says, however, that ABEC seems to want to do its own thing. Symister makes reference to the Interpretation Act, which lawyers consult to assist with the interpretation of legislation. He says that even if the Act were to be applied in this instance, only Sundays and public holidays would be excluded. Hence, clarity is still being sought since it is the Party’s view that 120 days are what it should be.
If the drafters of the Constitution wanted to indicate how the 120 days should be calculated, then it would have been stipulated, says Symister, an attorney-at-law.
This is the case regarding the time in which the Police can arrest and charge someone and take them before a magistrate – which is 48 hours, excluding Sundays and public holidays.
Hence, if the Constitution made provision for how the hours should be calculated in that section, then the drafters would have done the same as it relates to 120 days for a by-election, Symister reasons.
Therefore, he says, more clarity is being sought, and the discussions will focus on how the days are counted; but the Party’s calculation is based on the strict interpretation of the Constitution.
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