MP Michael says Cabinet’s planned probe into high number of St. Peter transfers amounts to unlawful voter suppression

St. Peter MP Asot Michael is calling on citizens to stand resolutely against what he describes as an abuse of power and shameful conduct by the Cabinet.

His condemnation follows last week’s announcement that the Executive will launch an investigation into voter registration in St. Peter, which has recorded “an unusually high” number of transfers into the constituency.

Michael says this probe is an indictment on the independence of the cornerstone of our democracy. He notes that voting is the process by which a government is selected; therefore, the government must not be seen as interfering with that process.

What the Executive is seeking to do is an attack on the integrity of the Antigua and Barbuda Electoral Commission (ABEC), its officers, and the Supervisor of Elections, the MP says.  “It seeks in part, if not in whole, to usurp their functions that are enshrined in our laws,” he states.

Further, he claims the Cabinet is using an unconstitutional strategy to manipulate the results of the next general election in St. Peter.

According to Michael, any Cabinet investigation smacks of selective suppression of voter registration, since it is not the function of the Cabinet to do so.

Based on the Representation of The People (Amendment) Act, any complaint with regard to voter registration and the voting process falls under the sole purview of ABEC.

Accordingly, any candidate or resident wishing to challenge the registration of any person can resort to the provisions laid out in the Act, under a process of “Claims and Objections,” Michael notes.

Since he sees the move by Cabinet as a way to undermine his candidacy, Michael is calling on the Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs, Steadroy “Cutie” Benjamin, “to … prevent this unlawful ‘launch [of] an investigation’ using the resources of the State for personal, political gain.”

Meanwhile, Michael alleges that the success of the National Housing programmes is responsible for the volume of people registering in St. Peter. He says the initiative has brought significant growth to the population of the constituency.

As MP for the area, Michael say he will continue to encourage and mobilize citizens to get registered, thus preparing them to participate in free and fair elections that are constitutionally due in March 2023.