United National Congress’ (UNC) Princes Town candidate, Barry Padarath has labelled plans by the People’s National Movement (PNM) to challenge the legitimacy of his candidacy as political mischief.
At a media conference yesterday, PNM chairman Colm Imbert said Padarath’s nomination should be deemed invalid because the incorrect form was used.
According to Imbert, election rules stipulate that once a candidate is in the country, form number 37 should be the consent form submitted to the returning officer.
However, after close inspection by the PNM, Padarath who was in quarantine at the time of the filing of his nomination papers had an agent hand in form number 38.
That document is used only when a candidate is absent from the country, “so if someone is not in the country, but wishes to be nominated as a candidate then form number 38 applies which is the nomination paper/consent form which is submitted by the agent if the person is not here.”
“Padarath’s nomination papers was posted up at the office of the returning officer and we have copies of it, so Mr Padarath’s nomination papers utilised the wrong form, unfortunately,” Imbert said.
When contacted by Guardian Media, Padarath said his documents were deemed valid by the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) and he slammed the PNM for trying to “sabotage” him ahead of the upcoming polls.
“This is pure political mischief and desperation by the PNM. I have been advised by the EBC that I am the UNC candidate for this general election so again this is pure PNM machination,” Padarath said.
In an interview with Guardian Media on July 6, Chief Elections Officer Fern Narcis-Scope said Padarath could file his nominations via an election agent while he spends 14-days in quarantine. She said the Representation of the People Act allows Padarath to apply to have an election agent file nomination papers on his behalf.
“There is a provision in the legislation for the filing of nomination papers by an election agent. Padarath has no issue, his papers can be filed quite adequately on his behalf,” Narcis-Scope said at the time.
She also revealed that anyone who is in quarantine will not be disenfranchised.
Meanwhile, Imbert denied claims that the revelation was a deliberate attack on Padarath. He said the right process must be adhered to for the country’s democracy and promised to challenge his bid to represent the area.
“So in this particular case, we believe that the Representation of The People Act is sacred and should be followed religiously and it is our intention to challenge these nomination papers.”
Imbert said if Padarath is elected and the courts rule against him, the seat should automatically go to the PNM.
Meanwhile, Chief Election Officer Fern Narcis-Scope said the EBC would look into the matter to see what had transpired. She said she was unaware of the matter until seeing a media report yesterday. She added she would seek information from the Returning Officer in question, but couldn’t comment further at this point.
The nomination forms filled out for candidates are always put up in candidates’ offices after the nomination day process is completed and such forms are on display for public scrutiny.
—With reporting by Radhica De Silva & Gail Alexander.