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Arnhim Eustace: I know the rules of the House

Arnhim Eustace: I know the rules of the House

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When the next sitting of the House of Assembly takes place on Tuesday, July 1st, 2008, all eyes will be on the seats of the Parliamentary Opposition.{{more}}

Like a game of checkers or chess, played over a period of weeks, Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace, parliamentary representatives Godwin Friday and Terrence Ollivierre, and Senators St. Clair Leacock and Daniel Cummings are expected to make their next move with regard to their absence from the House of Assembly for four consecutive sittings.

While most are expecting to see the elected members and senators in the house in three weeks time, Eustace has indicated that everyone will just have to wait until the next sitting to see what happens.

Speaking to Searchlight on Wednesday, Eustace revealed nothing.

“You would know in due time…. I am not going to say at this time, just wait and see.”

The President of the New Democratic Party, in response to remarks by the Speaker of the House Hendrick Alexander, indicated that he is aware of the rules of the House and knows exactly what the next step will be.

Earlier this week, Alexander told Searchlight that he hoped to see members of the Opposition in the House at the next sitting, to “represent the interest of the people, not only in their constituencies, but because the voice of the Opposition should be heard in Parliamentary debates.”

At the last sitting on May 29th, 2008, the Speaker announced that he had denied the Opposition Leader leave to absent himself from the House, since the reason given was not valid.

The Opposition members were absent from Parliament, protesting Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves refusal to “step aside” while allegations of rape and sexual assault made against him, make their way through the courts.

According to Alexander, these protests have nothing to do with the House and, therefore, he could not give Leave as requested.

Alexander stated that the request for Leave, which should have been written by all Opposition members, was sent to the Clerk of the House instead of him, as procedure requires.

Should the Opposition miss the next two sittings, a motion can be made in the house that the members be replaced in the form of by-elections.

Despite this, the Opposition Leader said that he is not fazed.

“We are under no pressure whatsoever.”

Prime Minister Gonsalves, while contributing to the last Parliamentary debate, seemed optimistic that there will be a new Opposition Leader in the near future.

“One hopes that the Leader of the Opposition, whoever he may be after these by-elections, which are apparently on target… if he (Eustace) dares to stay away for all six meetings.

“We may well have a Leader of the Opposition who would be able to do his work much better as the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee.

“I have always raised the question: ‘If you give someone a job of a lesser title; in this case the job as Leader of the Opposition, and he does not perform it well at all, on what basis can he come to the people to ask them to give him a promotion?’”

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