Basseterre, St. Kitts, October 27, 2016 (SKNIS)—Attorney General Honourable Vincent Byron Jr. said that the Douglas-led Administration “walked on the Constitution” when for 26 months the former Speaker of the House, Curtis Martin, “refused to table a Motion of No Confidence that had been filed with the Clerk as the Constitution required, as following the rule of law required.”
He made these comments at the prime minister’s monthly press conference on October 26.
“And for 26 months, there was a song and dance in this country, dragging us through all sorts of hoops without having a Motion of No Confidence,” said the attorney general, while adding “there was talk that it was not necessary—as soon as possible they could decide when it was. Clearly there had been a serious breach.”
The Attorney General rubbished calls by the defeated Douglas-led St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party (SKNLP) to dismiss the case against former Speaker Martin because it was no longer in power.
“I’ve heard; it has been reported to me that one member of the Opposition, member for number two (Chairperson of the SKNLP, Hon. Marcella Liburd), has said why are we bothering with it; why we don’t go to the House and fix it; in other words, sweep it under the table, sweep it under the carpet, forget about it, that this country has been put through one of our lowest periods in our history when for 26 months there was a refusal to do what was right, what the Constitution mandated and so for months, we had filed all the papers in our claims months and months ago and we were waiting for the court to establish a date, to establish what the constitutional mandate is. We will get the court to say what it is and so that date has been set down…there will be no witness cross-examination. All that is required now is for there to be oral arguments by lawyers representing the Speaker and lawyers representing the claimants, the Team Unity Government.
Attorney General Byron said that a date had been set down for October 27-28 but that that date had to be postponed because the lawyer representing the former Speaker had another engagement to attend to.
However, he said that “this matter will be settled shortly and so for the benefit of the people of St. Kitts and Nevis and for jurisprudence anywhere in the world, we will be able to establish what is the right thing to do and this Team Unity Government will uphold the rule of law. We will uphold the Constitution and do what is right,” Attorney General Byron said.
Former Acting Chief Justice of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, Sir Brian Alleyne said “it is very unprincipled to evade a motion of no confidence.”
“My view is that motions of no confidence should be heard and should be given high priority. Delaying the hearing of motions of no confidence is very contrary to all the principles of democratic governance and of parliamentary governance,” said Sir Alleyne, a retired jurist and former Dominican parliamentarian, who held a number of portfolios as a government minister in the Eugenia Charles Administration.