The Court of Appeal in Port of Spain, Trinidad, took just two hours on Monday to reject an appeal by the opposition United National Congress (UNC) challenging the dismissal of its election petitions over the results of last year’s general election. Chief Justice Ivor Archie and Appellate Judges Allan Mendonca and Peter Jamadar dashed the UNC’s hopes of having a by-election in five marginal constituencies as they ruled that the polls had been conducted “in a free and fair manner consistent with the constitutional requirements for democracy,” the Trinidad Guardian reported. However, the appeal panel, comprised of the country’s most senior judges, ruled that the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) overstepped its remit when it decided to extend the polls by one hour in Trinidad due to heavy rainfall.
“The population can feel safe that the democratic process has not been undermined,” Archie said as he noted that the EBC’s breach was not egregious enough to taint the election result and render it null and void, as contended by the UNC.
Referring to a cross-appeal filed by the EBC, Archie said the court was not in a position to afford the commission the power to make adjustments to an election in extenuating circumstances, such as natural disasters.
“It is improper for us to interfere as any rules are in the providence of Parliament,” Archie said.