30 July, 2007

Candidates' Residence

Constitutional Discussions 13: Residential Qualification for Candidates. Section 36 of the Constitution provides the qualifications for being a political candidate. You have to be an Anguillian Belonger. If you were not born in Anguilla, you have to be the child of a person born in Anguilla. In the latter case, you must qualify by residing in the island for at least three consecutive years immediately before nomination. If you were born here, you do not have to reside here to be nominated. That is how Osborne Fleming, Victor Banks, and Neil Rogers got nominated even though they were living and working overseas at the time. They had been born here.

The Commission took representations from many persons. Most agreed with keeping the qualification that you must be an Anguillian. More radically, most agreed that the residence qualification should apply equally, regardless of whether you were born here or not. The Commission went along with the majority view. It recommended at paragraph 82 of its Report that this qualification apply in future to all candidates.

Regretfully, the Members of the Assembly, meeting in caucus at the Limestone Bay Café, did not see eye to eye with the Commission. They preferred to keep it open for candidates who were born here to be free of a residence qualification. They would keep the provision as it presently is. They did not base this on any interviews with the public. They did not take a stand based on a different appreciation of what the Anguillians wanted. They simply had a personal preference.

That is not in this case, in my humble view, an adequate basis for differing from the recommendation!


  1. I agree if you are born on Anguilla, no law should disqualify you from getting nominated regardless of where you reside. Our island is too small to treat our people this way. We need to stop this selfish and narrominded approach to democracy. We better becareful we do not disenfranchise our born Anguillians and give those who are not born here but have Anguillian citizenship more rights than those who are born Anguillians. Many persons have benefitted from this in the past and now they want to take it away from the next generation of politicians. Almost all the politicans in Anguilla had to leave Anguilla either for work or education. At the end of the days, Anguilla will always be the only HOME we know.

    No man and no law must take away Anguillians birthright. What is important is they have not committed any crimes. I think there are other ways we can address the issue that may have caused people to suggest it must be mandatory for born Anguillians to reside on the island for 3 years. One year, I can understand but 3? The decisions we make today may have unforseen consequences. I would even support absentee voting for Anguillians who have land, monetary or business assets on Anguilla..

  2. Aha, brilliant -- a means test for voting, just like in the Old South in the days before the Civil Rights Act, where poor blacks couldn't vote.

    The writer is confused. Can I vote absentee if I have land, monetary or business assets in Anguilla, or is it my birthright? It has to be one or the other.

  3. Why should someone not risiding in Anguilla for a number of years prior to an election qualify to represent the people of this island. Moses was able to lead 'God's chosen people' out of Egypt only because he was there and he understood, saw and experience the suffering of those people. If you want to lead a people you should be here going through the same experiences.


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