New Qualification Legislation Heads for Parliament

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Debate To Be Heard – Thursday,  November 05, 2009

Basseterre, St. Kitts – Nevis
November 04, 2009 (CUOPM)

Legislation which makes provision for candidates seeking election to the National Assembly to declare that they are duly qualified in accordance with the Constitution of St. Kitts and Nevis will be debated in the lawmaking body on Thursday.

When passed, assented to by the Governor General and gazetted, candidates will have to make a declaration on oath or by affirmation, administered by the Returning Officer, that she or he is duly qualified in accordance with sections 27 and 28 of the Constitution of St. Kitts and Nevis to be elected as a member of the National Assembly for the Electoral District.

The National Assembly Elections (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill, 2009 provides for the candidate to declare that he or she is a citizen of Saint Christopher and Nevis of the age of twenty-one years and upwards, is domiciled in Saint Christopher and Nevis and is not, by virtue of his or her own act, under any acknowledgement of allegiance, obedience or adherence to a foreign power or State.

Candidates will also be required to declare that he or she is not a minister of religion, is not an undischarged bankrupt, having been adjudged or otherwise declared bankrupt under any law;  is not a person certified to be insane or otherwise adjudged to be of unsound mind under any law, is not under a sentence of death imposed by a court of law in any part of the Commonwealth nor is serving a sentence of imprisonment (by whatever name called) exceeding twelve months imposed by such a court or substituted by a competent authority for some other sentence of imprisonment the execution of which has been suspended.

On Nomination Day the candidate will also declare he or she is not disqualified for membership of the National Assembly by any  law of the National Assembly by reason of holding or acting in any office the functions of which involve any responsibility for or in connection with the conduct of any election of Representatives or members of the Nevis Island Assembly, or any responsibility for the compilation of any register of voters for the purpose of electing Representatives or members of the Nevis Island Assembly.

He or she is also to declare they are not disqualified for membership of the National Assembly by virtue of any law of Parliament by reason of (a) been convicted of any criminal offence that is connected with the election of Representatives or members of the Nevis Island Assembly; or (b) been reported guilty of such an offence by a court trying an Election Petition.

The proposed legislation also calls for the declaration that the candidate is not disqualified for membership of the National Assembly by any law of Parliament by reason of (a) holding or acting in any office or appointment specified by such law, (b) belonging to any defence force or to any class of persons so specified that is comprised in any such force and (c) belonging to any police force specified by such law or to any class of person so specified.

Candidates will also declare they are not disqualified for membership in the National Assembly by virtue of having any contract or interest in any contract with the Government or with a Department of the Government or any officer of the Government acting as such.

A candidate who commits an offence under the Act shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding EC$30,000 or to a term of imprisonment not exceeding five years or to both such fine and imprisonment.

The candidate shall not be qualified for a period not exceeding five years following his or her conviction or as the case may be, following a report of the court hearing an election petition as may be so prescribed to be elected or appointed as a Member of Parliament.

The draft legislation also provides for a person who nominates a candidate for election who commits an offence under the section shall on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding EC$20,000 or to a term of imprisonment not exceeding five years or to both such fine and imprisonment.

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