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Consider sanctions against Opposition for withdrawing

by: - July 31, 2018
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Members of the Opposition in Parliament on Friday 27 July 2018

A Member of Parliament has proposed that the House considers appropriate sanctions against the Opposition United Workers Party (UWP) for withdrawing from the current sitting of Parliament.

The First Meeting of the Fourth Session of the Ninth Parliament, which convened on Wednesday 25 July 2018, re-convened at 10:30AM on Tuesday 31 July.

Members of Parliament are debating budgetary estimates for the fiscal year 2018 -2019 presented to Parliament by Finance Minister, Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit.

In contributing to the debate on Monday 30 July 2018, Attorney General, Levi Peter said he felt “obliged to observe” the Opposition’s absence and expressed concern about this decision based on their role.

“The role of the opposition is to function on behalf of those who have voted for them, and indeed more broadly in terms of the sustenance of our democratic systems to engage in the democratic process, and part of that is to come to the House and to sit in the House and to do the work of the House,” Mr. Peter stated.

The Opposition announced on Monday 30 July via a press statement that it would no longer participate in the current sitting based “on a series of actions against the public interest in this current sitting requiring urgent public attention to preserve parliamentary democracy in Dominica”.

UWP’s public relations officer, Steve Benjamin told Vibes news yesterday that the main reason for this decision is Prime Minister Skerrit’s “unexplained absence” from Parliament last week Thursday and Friday.

Mr. Peter, noted that from media reports the Opposition’s decision “is no accident” but “deliberate”.

“It may be that this is a matter that the House should consider and to consider whether there is appropriate sanction for such behavior because in my humble opinion, it is behavior which is inappropriate and certainly unjustified in circumstances,” the AG said.

“I wonder also whether the fact that the Opposition has indicated that they have withdrawn from this sitting of the Parliament, whether that means that they are accepting that the salary that is due to them should be withdrawn also,” Mr. Peter added.

Prime Minister Skerrit was in Grenada last week Friday to hand over chairmanship of the Monetary Council of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) to Prime Minister of Grenada, Dr Keith Mitchell.

While the Prime Minister wrote to the Speak of the House of Assembly seeking her permission to be absent due to “urgent matters”, it was not communicated that he would be attending the ECCU meeting.