Basseterre, St. Kitts, November 18, 2016 (SKNIS): The Dr. Douglas-led St. Kitts and Nevis Labour Party Opposition was conspicuously absent for the swearing in of Senator Mrs. Akilah Byron-Nisbett as Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly on November 18, 2016.
The Douglas-led Opposition’s absence was as conspicuous as its five year term in Government from 2010-2015 when the National Assembly was bereft of a Deputy Speaker for a full term, even though the Constitution of St. Kitts and Nevis clearly states that there should be one.
Senator Byron-Nisbett was nominated and elected Deputy Speaker of the Parliament unopposed.
“Mr. Speaker, the members of the Opposition who were rejected just over a year ago are conspicuously absent. I know they’re listening though but they are physically absent. I believe they’re absent Mr. Speaker because the member for number 7 and our leader spoke to the constitutional requirement that has been met, section 32, subsection 3, which relates to Speaker and Deputy Speaker—this is the Constitution of St. Kitts and Nevis, the highest law in the land,” said Member of Parliament for Constituency #1, the Honourable Ian Patches Liburd.
Section 32 (3) of the Constitution of St. Kitts and Nevis states: “When the National Assembly first meets after any general election and before it proceeds to the despatch of any other business except the election of the Speaker the Assembly shall elect a member of the Assembly who is not a member of the Cabinet or a Parliamentary Secretary to be Deputy Speaker of the Assembly, and if the office of Deputy Speaker falls vacant at any time before the next dissolution of Parliament, the Assembly shall, as soon as convenient, elect another such member to that office.”
Minister Liburd continued: “It bears repeating Mr. Speaker, because although it is said we have a three day syndrome, I vividly remember when the then Senator Richard Skerritt was elected as Deputy Speaker in this Honourable Assembly and the very same day, two hours thereafter, he resigned as Deputy Speaker—you must remember that. And then, he was appointed in the office of the then attorney general—he took an oath that same today as the minister of tourism et cetera.”
In moving the motion for the nomination and appointment of Senator Byron-Nisbett, Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris, also spoke to section 32 (3) of the Constitution of St. Kitts and Nevis.
“This Team Unity Administration is a government committed to law and order and it is imperative therefore that at all times we comply with the law. The aberration of the bygone dark era when the Parliament was reduced to a useless instrument shall not be repeated,” said Prime Minister Harris. “So, today we come to this Parliament to make a difference between what once was and what ought to be. Today, I have the distinct pleasure as head of government, not just to satisfy the constitutional requirement outlined in section 32, subsection 3, for the Deputy Speaker but to present the Honourable Mrs. Byron-Nisbett as the most favoured choice of the administration.”
Other ministers of the Team Unity Administration commended Senator Byron-Nisbett, referring to her as an exemplar in conduct.