Fri | Jan 15, 2021

Regional Briefs

Published:Saturday | December 5, 2020 | 8:32 AM

Vincentian opposition decides against election court challenge

KINGSTOWN (CMC):

The main opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) in St Vincent and the Grenadines says it will not pursue legal action in relation to the outcome of the November 5 general election won by the ruling Unity labour Party (ULP) of Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves.

“We haven’t filed any legal action but this is primarily a political struggle and we are going to engage in this very vigorously because the people of the country have spoken, they have given us a majority of votes,” NDP and Opposition Leader Dr Godwin Friday said.

The ULP won nine of the 15 seats in the Parliament, improving upon the slender one seat majority it had enjoyed in the past two consecutive polls.

Friday was asked whether the UDP had considered or was considering legal action regarding the outcome in any of the constituencies.

“We have a majority among the people; they (ULP) have a majority of the seats. That is not something that is stable in our system of government so we have to work to bring the system back into full democratic functioning, which is to say the party that the majority of the people select should form government,” Friday said.

Guyanese court halts deportation of Haitians

GEORGETOWN (CMC):

Acting Chief Justice Roxane George has granted a conservatory order stopping the deportation of 26 Haitians in custody at a government facility.

George handed down her ruling on Thursday night suspending the deportation until the High Court decides on the constitutionality of the detention of the Haitians and their planned removal from Guyana.

On Monday, a magistrate had issued an order for the Haitians, including nine women and seven children, to be taken to the nearest port of exit on the grounds that they violated Guyana’s immigration laws.

But a habeas corpus was filed in the High Court last week by President of the Association of Haitian Nationals in Guyana, Kesnel Toussaint, arguing that the Haitians were being subject to “inhumane treatment and unsanitary conditions”.

The police claimed they were suspected to be victims of a human trafficking ring but the Haitians have denied that and Toussaint said that since their detention, the Haitians have been denied counsel, although several requests were made.

The case resumes on December 18.

Barbados gets IDB funds to strengthen COVID-19 response

WASHINGTON (CMC):

The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) says it has approved a US$120 million loan to help Barbados strengthen its health and economic response to the COVID-19 pandemic; support household income and business liquidity; and define a social, economic and fiscal plan to reactivate its economy.

“The proceeds will be used to promote macro-economic stability and finance measures to address the pandemic, including the purchase of medicine, medical supplies and equipment,” the Washington-based financial institution said in a statement.

It said resources will also be used to support temporary measures to protect household income and provide businesses with working capital, “as the pandemic continues to hurt the economy, especially tourism, one of the country’s biggest economic sectors”.

The IDB said the loan will also support the planning and design of fiscal and economic measures that will help Barbados recover in the post-pandemic period, including measures to simplify taxes, increase government revenues, control spending and improve tax management and customs enforcement capabilities.

Opposition leader’s absence means no debate on budget

ST GEORGE’S (CMC):

Grenadian Opposition Leader Tobias Clement has been barred from making a contribution to the debate of the EC$1.2 billion budget after the Speaker, Michael Pierre, said he had received no communication from the legislator regarding his absence on Friday.

Finance Minister Gregory Bowen, presented his first fiscal package to Parliament on Wednesday, after he was appointed to the portfolio in October, replacing Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell during a minor cabinet shuffle.

“I was hoping to see the Leader of the Opposition here to begin the debate, we have no communications as to the reason for his latest, (non-appearance). This is unfortunate, but we shall not be held up by anybody and so we will proceed,” Pierre told legislators.

In the last general election, held on March 13, 2018, Mitchell led his ruling New National Party (NNP) to a consecutive clean sweep of all 15 seats in the Parliament.

But Clement resigned from the party in April this year and was appointed Opposition leader, saying that his decision to fill the post, which had been vacant since 2013, was his way of taking a stand for democracy.