Turks and Caicos elections mess continues

Legal challenges have been filed against the candidacy or election of six Turks and Caicos Islands politicians under the territory’s constitution, according to a statement released late Friday by the attorney general’s office.  

The British overseas territory, which had its locally-elected government thrown out following a 2008-2009 Commission of Inquiry into systemic corruption under former Premier Michael Misick’s administration, has been struggling to regain its footing after having local rule returned to it late last year by the UK.  

Local elections were held there on 9 November, 2012, and a by-election has been set for later this month on 22 March.  

According to the statement, released by acting Attorney General Rhondalee Braithwaite-Knowles, political candidates in Turks must declare that they are qualified to stand for election prior to nomination day and must also notify the territory’s Integrity Commission of the existence of any contracts that exist between the candidate and the government.  

One candidate for election, Amanda Misick, in the Cheshire Hall-Richmond Hill electoral district, had the “veracity of [her] declaration” challenged by the attorney general’s office.  

In addition, five sitting house members including George Lightbourne, Edwin Astwood, Derek Taylor, Josephine Connolly and Delroy Williams now face challenges to their elections in the House as well.  

The attorney general’s statement read: “The basis of each of these challenges is that, when each of the individuals made their … nomination day declaration to the supervisor of elections for the 9 November general election and the upcoming 22 March by-election, a disqualification … applied to each of them in that each of them has a contract with the government which, by that date, they had not given notice of to the Integrity Commission. The type of contract in each case is a charge to secure the payment to the Crown of a “Belonger Discount” (applicable under the Crown Land Policy) in the event of a sale in prescribed circumstances. 

“I have asked the court to determine whether in each case, the individual is or is not qualified to be an elected member of the House considering the failure to give notice of the respective charges.” 

If Ms Misick is disqualified, she will not be able to participate in the 22 March by-elections. If the five elected assembly members are ruled ineligible, their seats would be vacated and another by-election would be called.  

The Turks and Caicos House of Assembly has 21 total seats, 15 of which are elected by popular vote. 

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