Last update: 08-Dec-2013 4:55 am
Sunday, December 08, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
You are here
AG knocks Volney’s defiant stand: He should have resigned seat
Fresh out of the heated Chaguanas West by-election, the country may have to brace for another. Attorney General Anand Ramlogan says Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar has written to Speaker of the House Wade Mark to ask him to declare vacant the St Joseph seat of Herbert Volney, under Section 49 a of the Constitution.
Volney, who was fired as justice minister over the Section 34 scandal, won the St Joseph seat on a United National Congress (UNC) ticket, but has since joined Jack Warner’s Independent Liberal Party (ILP). Speaking with reporters at the UNC Youth Arm’s schoolbag distribution in Barrackpore on Thursday, Ramlogan said the Prime Minister had sought legal advice on the matter before writing to the Speaker.
Ramlogan said: “It is clear in the Constitution that Section 49 prohibits members who resign from the party upon whose ticket they were elected to serve in the Parliament, from resigning from that party and remaining in Parliament on the strength of that party.” After receiving legal advice, he said the Prime Minister consulted with him.
“And a letter was in fact written to the Speaker to indicate that as political leader of the party upon whose ticket Mr Volney was elected to serve in the Parliament, in light of his resignation, that steps be taken to deal with him in accordance with the Constitution and the laws,” the AG said. Once Volney does not challenge the move to have the seat declared vacant, he said, “then one would expect that there will be a by-election in due course, yes.”
He said Volney should have followed the pattern set by Warner, who, because of damning Concacaf allegations against him, resigned as National Security Minister, Chaguanas West MP and as a member of the UNC and then formed his own political party. Warner then contested the Chaguanas West seat and won.
Ramlogan said: “Mr Volney today, I think he is in the newspapers. He filled out an application form and he has in fact joined another party. It is a frustration and distortion of the democratic will of the people who elect you on one party’s ticket, for you to resign and go and join another party in mid-term, as the case may be.
“The correct thing would have been to do like Mr Warner did and to resign your seat seek a fresh mandate from the electorate on the party you intend to join and then you can resume your seat in Parliament, with the integrity of the democratic process intact,” he said.
Asked if he was concerned about the PM’s cabinet reshuffle in two weeks, since he was accused of being part of a cabal, Ramlogan said: “Ministerial appointments are always in the sole prerogative of the Prime Minister and we are always happy to abide by whatever decision the Prime Minister takes, because she is our leader and we have the utmost confidence in her ability to make the right decision in the interests of the Government and the people of T&T.”
He said the only cabal he is involved in is with his wife, friends and all-fours partners. Meanwhile, addressing rumours and claims by Volney that the AG had written to the House Speaker on the matter, Persad-Bissessar said he (AG) had no jurisdiction in law to do so.
“That’s not true. The AG has not written,” the PM said, as she answered questions from the media at an orientation ceremony for new students at the University of the West Indies in St Augustine yesterday.
Asked if the Volney issue was discussed at the UNC’s recent national executive meeting, she said it was. Asked if his decision to join the ILP had influenced any plan to have him vacate his seat, Persad-Bissessar said: “No. Mr Volney has resigned as a Member of the Parliament and therefore it was discussed as to what could or should happen. “The law provides that where a person resigns from the party on whose ticket he was elected, he should also vacate his seat. That was the discussion.”
The PM said the Government was looking at Section 49 (2) of the Constitution and this was part of the Volney discussion at the meeting.
— With reporting by Yvonne Baboolal
Section 49 (2) of the Constitution
A member of the House of Representatives shall also vacate his seat in the House where— (e) having been a candidate of a party and elected to the House, he resigns from or is expelled by that party.”
Section 49 A (1): “Where circumstances such as are referred to in section 49(2)(e) arise, the leader in the House of Representatives of the party as a candidate of which the member was elected, shall so inform the Speaker in writing of those circumstances and the Speaker shall, at the sitting of the House of Representatives next after he is so informed, make a declaration that the member has resigned from or has been expelled by the party, as the case may be.
User comments posted on this website are the sole views and opinions of the comment writer and are not representative of Guardian Media Limited or its staff. Guardian Media Limited accepts no liability and will not be held accountable for user comments.
Please help us keep out site clean from inappropriate comments by using the flag option.
Guardian Media Limited reserves the right to remove, to edit or to censor any comments. Any content which is considered unsuitable, unlawful or offensive, includes personal details, advertises or promotes products, services or websites or repeats previous comments will be removed.