Former First Lady Lorna Smith has called on members of the Virgin Islands Party (VIP) to stop spreading false claims about the eligibility of candidates from her party to serve in the House of Assembly (HOA).
Smith, who is contesting the elections as a Territorial At-Large candidate with the National Democratic Party (NDP), told residents at a campaign rally in the Second Electoral District last evening that she has tried to remain above the fray of party politics thus far.
“I would, however, ask the members of the Virgin Islands
Party to refrain from spreading deliberate and false claims, to the effect that, should two of us (NDP candidates) on the campaign be elected, we cannot be seated in the House of Assembly,” Smith said.
The former First Lady did not offer any details to support her contention but insisted that such claims were far from the truth, particularly since she had helped with negotiations for the 2007 Constitution Order — the document which outlines the fundamental laws that govern the territory today.
Smith also suggested that candidates should instead address real issues affecting the BVI and ‘stop talking nonsense’ on the campaign trail.
Who is qualified to serve
According to Section 65(1) of the constitution, in order to be eligible, a person must meet one of two criteria: either they were eligible before the new constitution was put in place, or they are a Virgin Islander who was at least 21 years old and eligible to vote.
The definition of a ‘Virgin Islander’ is given in subsections (2) and (3), which basically says that a person is a Virgin Islander if they were born in the Virgin Islands
to a parent who was a citizen of the Virgin Islands
, or if they were born outside the Virgin Islands
to a parent or grandparent who was a citizen of the Virgin Islands
Subsection (4) adds some additional requirements for eligibility. If a person has never lived in the territory, they must have lived there for at least five years before they can run for office. If a person used to live in the Virgin Islands
, but has been living outside of the territory for more than ten years, they must have lived in the Virgin Islands
for at least three years before they can run for office, and they must currently be a resident of the Virgin Islands
Who is disqualified
Section 66 addresses criteria that can disqualify candidates from serving in the HOA.
A person cannot be elected if they are currently in a public office, declared bankrupt, certified as insane, sentenced to death or imprisoned for at least a year, or disqualified by any election laws in the Virgin Islands
A person cannot be elected to the HOA if they have been in jail for a year or more, or have been released from jail after serving such a sentence within the past five years.
Additionally, if a person is involved in any contract with the government of the Virgin Islands
, they must disclose this before being nominated as a candidate.