UNC Election Petition Thrown Out

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‘The Petition as presented is hopelessly flawed…’ Justice Frank Seepersad

By Prior Beharry

THE election petition brought by the United National Congress (UNC) after its candidate lost the Arima Northeast local government district has been thrown out.

Justice Frank Seepersad gave a ruling in the High Court on Monday stating that the UNC’s candidate Jairzinho Domingo Gustav Rigsby neither served nor named the People’s National Movement (PNM) winning candidate Kim Magdalene Garcia as a respondent in the matter.


The judge said, “The Petition as presented is hopelessly flawed as it failed to comply with the mandatory statutory requirement to have joined the elected candidate, Ms Kim Garcia, as the Respondent as is required under section 107(2). In addition, there has been no compliance with section 110 of the ROPA.”

Justice Frank Seepersad

Rigsby’s attorneys named the Chief Elections Officer of the Elections andBoundaries Commission (EBC) Fern Narcis-Scope and Returning Officer for the Electoral District of Arima Northeast as respondents in the petition.

The matter arose after the August 14 Local Government Elections (LGE) when the seat was declared to be a tie with each receiving 623 votes.

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After a recount, Rigby was declared the winner by the EBC with one additional vote, taking his tally to 624. However, the EBC stated that the PNM Garcia received two additional votes in the final tally and was declared the winner of the seat with 625.

Rigby then filed the election petition claiming that the two votes in the final tally came from questionable ballots and should not have been deemed valid or even counted in Garcia’s favour.


But, although ruling in its favour, Justice Seepersad was critical of the EBC.

He said, “The named respondents should however, in light of the nature of the allegations advanced in the Petition, engage in a critical and comprehensive review of the current processes.

“Returning Officers and Election Clerks should undergo structured screening.

“Bias sensitisation and intense training also needs be engaged so as to reinforce the need for strict adherence to the electoral regulations and guidelines.

“Those entrusted with the sacred responsibility to conduct elections must do all within their power to gain the population’s trust and its confidence in the impartiality and integrity of the electoral process.

“This society stands dangerously close to a precipitous edge. The patience and tolerance levels of significant portions of the citizenry appear to be strained and if a cautious, transparent and unbiased application of the law is not engaged, when elections are conducted and the results are tabulated, mayhem will likely ensue.”


Rigsby was represented by attorneys Dinesh Rambally, Kiel Taklalsingh, Stefan Ramkisson, Rhea Khan, Kavita Moonsar and Arif Rahman.

Attorneys Deborah Peake, SC and Ravi Heffes-Doon instructed by Alana Bissessar represent the EBC.

The UNC has also filed an election petition for the Lengua/Indian Walk district and this is being heard by another judge.


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