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Azar breaks silence on Tennis Jamaica impasse

Published:Thursday | February 25, 2016 | 2:00 AMAndre Lowe

As the controversy surrounding an aborted Tennis Jamaica (TJ) election, which took place in November 2015, rages on, presidential candidate John Azar is looking to clear the air, as he disputes the association's position on the troubled election, among other things.

Azar is contesting that he was legitimately elected at the abandoned meeting and is rejecting Tennis Jamaica's report of what transpired at the election, and noted, contrary to previous communication, that it was his supporters who called for an immediate re-vote, while taking issue with several outlined resolutions ahead of a scheduled re-vote.

Tennis Jamaica's decision to declare last year's election null and void is also a sticking point for Azar, who noted that this matter is currently before the courts.

An election of officers, which took place during Tennis Jamaica's annual general meeting at the Sports Development Foundation's conference room on November 19, 2015, was adjourned over what the John Bailey-led TJ administration called an 'administrative' error, which saw more than the 77 legitimate voters casting ballots.

At the end of the election, Bailey tallied 43 votes to Azar's 40 - six more than the total number of persons eligible to vote. This led to Tennis Jamaica subsequently declaring the election null and void.

Tennis Jamaica, which has rescheduled its election of officers to April 12, has itself bashed who it termed "unscrupulous persons", and distanced itself from the issue.

A lawsuit has since been filed against the organisation and three of its senior members by Joseph Dibbs, who is also a member of Tennis Jamaica.

Dibbs is challenging the aborted status of the election and contests that Azar was duly elected President of the organisation at the ill-fated AGM. The suit also demands that the election of other officers be conducted with the same voters' list.

An injunction was also filed against an extraordinary general meeting scheduled for March 3, at the Jamaica Olympic Association, where several resolutions are expected to be deliberated.

'DELIBERATE ATTEMPT TO COMPROMISE'

In a press release issued yesterday afternoon, Azar described the over-voting at last year's elections as a deliberate attempt by the administration to compromise the process.

"At their press conference held on December 10, 2015, Tennis Jamaica referred to the over-voting at the November 19 AGM as being "nothing deliberate" and attributed it to "an administrative error". My view of what transpired is totally different: Over-voting, or the stuffing of a ballot box can only be a very deliberate act clearly designed to hijack the democratic process," wrote Azar.

"For the record, Tennis Jamaica accepts that I received 40 votes on the night in question, while Bailey received 43 votes in the election for president. They also confirm that 77 voters were eligible on the night - either in person or via proxy. The fact is that all 40 votes cast for me have been confirmed and accounted for as sworn affidavits have been signed to that effect. Forty out of 77 is indeed a clear majority," the release continued.

Azar has also called for a list of potential voters and is arguing that resolutions set to be voted on by the membership at the March 3 meeting will change existing rules concerning the eligibility of voters prior to what is considered the continuation of an election.