Basseterre, St. Kitts, October 28, 2016 (SKNIS): While the former Douglas-led Administration ruled the country for a full term (5 years) without appointing a deputy speaker of the National Assembly, although the Constitution clearly stipulates that there should be one, Attorney General Honourable Vincent Byron said that the Harris-led Team Unity Administration is committed to respecting the Constitution, which is the supreme law of the land, while upholding the rule of law.

“I would want to say that the Team Unity Movement was committed while in opposition to look at and ensure that the breaches that had occurred in our predecessors as to the breaches in the Constitution would be dealt with effectively and efficiently,” said Attorney General Byron at the prime minister’s press conference on October 26, 2016.

“And, I speak to two in particular, one being the fact that for five years, the entire term, that the Douglas-led Administration was in office, there was no deputy speaker in our Parliament, no deputy speaker for five years—no one took that post and we felt very strongly that this was a disgrace to our democracy,” the attorney general said.

The attorney general said that by not appointing a deputy speaker for five years, it “was a clear breach” of the Constitution.

At the start of the new term pursuant to the Constitution of St. Christopher and Nevis, the Government of National Unity appointed Franklyn Brand as Speaker of the National Assembly and Michael Perkins as Deputy Speaker on 14th May, 2015. Since that time, the Hon. Franklyn Brand resigned in May of this year due to health challenges, while the Hon. Michael Perkins was elevated to the Speaker of the House position on June 30, 2016. This left a vacancy for a deputy speaker in the National Assembly.

On October 26, 2016, Akilah Byron-Nisbett was appointed senator in the National Assembly by the Governor General His Excellency Sir Tapley Seaton to fill the void left by the Hon. Michael Perkins. Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris has signaled his government’s intention to nominate Senator Byron-Nisbett as the next deputy speaker of the House.

“When today the honourable prime minister made the announcement that we have now appointed, nominated and had sworn in a new senator, now the Honourable Akilah Byron-Nisbett, we feel very proud that we will not be caught in that abominable situation,” said Attorney General Byron, while adding “the Honourable Byron-Nisbett will be nominated at the next sitting of the Parliament as the deputy speaker and so whereas there has been none for the last few months, we feel that we will uphold the Constitution and the rule of law in this country.”

He added: “Just as the previous administration had walked on the Constitution, refused to have had a deputy speaker for five years, for 26 months in this country, we had the Constitution dragged to the lowest when the then speaker refused to table a motion of no confidence that had been legitimately been filed with the clerk as the Constitution required, as following the rule of law required.”