PHILIPSBURG–Members of Parliament (MPs) on Friday approved a request from Chairperson of Parliament Sarah Wescot-Williams to request the advice from the Council of Advice on whether the decree setting a snap parliamentary election for February 26 is unconstitutional.
MPs voted along party lines with the six MPs present from the governing coalition (Franklin Meyers, Claret Connor, Tamara Leonard and Sidharth “Cookie” Bijlani of United People’s (UP) party and Perry Geerlings and Wescot-Williams of Democratic Party (DP)) voting to approve the request and the three National Alliance members present (Rodolphe Samuel, George Pantophlet and Ardwell Irion) voting against the request.
The item voted on is for a request to be sent to the Council of Advice for advice on the November 12 national decree for the dissolution of Parliament.
The first national decree for the dissolution of Parliament was dated November 3, 2017, which at the time set the convening of the new Parliament for January 31, 2018. The second decree, on November 12, establishes the election for February 26 and sets the first convening of the new Parliament for April 2, 2018, which Wescot-Williams had called earlier a “gross violation” of article 59 of the Constitution.
She had always maintained that the three-month period prescribed by the constitution has been exceeded by nearly two months, without explanation or motivation.
Several MPs weighed in one the subject with criticism being levelled by both sides. One of the highlights of the meeting was when Meyers told Irion, “Don’t play with me, boy, don’t play with me,” in reaction to statements made by Irion in his remarks in Parliament. Meyers later apologised for using the word “boy” in responding to Irion, noting that the word was inappropriate as it has a negative connotation.
After the first round Wescot-Williams went straight into the second round although Samuel enquired whether the questions he had posed would not be answered. He said the questions were also asked in an effort to inform the public.
His questions included whether Prime Minister Leona Romeo-Marlin had sent to Parliament a copy of her letter to the Kingdom Government, whether it had been a national decree decided on by the present government and whether it had been sent to Governor Eugene Holiday. He also asked whether the letter had been a personal one from Romeo-Marlin or whether it was a ministerial decree or a decree from the Council of Ministers.
Samuel said the questions were normal ones and he believed they deserved answers.
Wescot-Williams said the proposal was clear and MPs have to vote either for or against it. She said also that questions such as whether a copy of the request had been sent to bodies such as Government and the Kingdom Government were “totally irrelevant to the matter at this time.” She said every MP has a right to question Government and should follow the procedures when exercising this right.
The matter then went into voting, with most MPs motivating their vote for or against.