Antiguan opposition legislator resigns, wants by-election
ST JOHN'S, Antigua, CMC – Opposition legislator, Kelvin 'Shugy' Simon, Wednesday said he had submitted his letter of resignation to the Speaker of Parliament and will contest a by-election in a bid to thwart efforts by the ruling Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party (ABLP) to challenge his victory at the general election earlier this year.
“After careful consideration and prayers, I have submitted my letter of resignation to the Speaker of the House, Sir Gerald Watt, KC, informing him of my decision to vacate the seat in Parliament, so that a by-election can be held within the next 120 days, as the law mandates,” Simon said.
Prime Minister Gaston Browne had led the ABLP to a nail-biting victory in the January 18 general elections, winning nine of the 17 seats for a third consecutive term in office.
Simon was among the seven members of the main opposition United progressive Party (UPP) that won seats in the elections, but his victory over the incumbent Samantha Marshall by 199 votes for the St Mary's South seat, has been challenged on the grounds that he was a public servant when he was nominated.
“The petitioner and the Antigua Labour Party first sought to prevent me from being sworn in as a Member of Parliament by seeking an injunction from the Court. This was refused by the Court on February 14, 2023.
“Since that date, I have been consumed by the litigation and the media controversy. This has created an unwarranted hindrance to the proper execution of my duties as the representative for the constituency of St Mary's South,” Simon added.
He said that the matter is due to be heard by the Court during the first week of July, “and while my lawyers believe in the strength of my case, the outcome is entirely in the hands of the trial judge.
“Whoever loses the case will appeal to the Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal. This will delay the final outcome even further, as the appeal will have to be heard and a decision given,” he said, accusing the ABLP of using the courts “to circumvent the will of the people.
He recalled that while in opposition, the ABLP had challenged the election of four UPP members of Parliament and that appeal process took over 12 months, crippling the UPP government's ability to govern during the appeal process.
“It is unfair to the people of St Mary's South to have this uncertainty hanging over their heads. This situation needs to be resolved without further delay. Therefore, my decision, today, June 7, 2023, is that I want this matter to be settled by the people; not by the Court.
“The constituents of St Mary's South elected me convincingly before, and I am confident that they will do so again in a by-election,” Simon added.
He said to allow this matter to drag on for another 12 months will only distract and diminish the desire of constituents in St Mary's South.
“I have the full support of the Leadership of the United Progressive Party, St Mary's South Party Branch and my legal team – to whom I am forever indebted for their support, counsel and professionalism,” Simon said, adding “ let us head back to the people's court to create a future that we all can believe in”.
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