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Dr. Godwin Friday – ‘Attorney General is not eligible to vote’

Dr. Godwin Friday –  ‘Attorney General is not eligible to vote’

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Opposition Parliamentarian and Area Representative for the Northern Grenadines Dr. Godwin Friday said the New Democratic Party (NDP) will challenge the action in which Attorney General, Judith Jones-Morgan voted at the first sitting of Ninth Parliament, on December 29, to elect the Speaker of the House.{{more}}

During the adoption of the minutes of the previous sitting at last Thursday’s (January 20) sitting of the House, Friday noted that at the December 29 Parliamentary session, Speaker of the House Hendrick Alexander was elected to the post with a 13 – 9 majority.

However, Friday contends that under the Constitution of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, this was inaccurate, as only 12 members on the Government’s side are eligible to vote.

“The record reflects that there were 13 members who voted on the Government’s side, but the number of persons entitled to vote are 12 because the Attorney General is not eligible to vote,” Friday stated.

“On the face of it, that is inaccurate,” he said.

He cited Section 41(1) which states that “any question proposed for decision in the House shall be determined by a majority of the votes of the members present and voting.”

Friday further stated that Section 41(3) excludes the Attorney General as a member of the House for voting.

Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, by way of a supplementary explanation, informed the House that the minutes were, in fact, an accurate record of what had taken place.

Gonsalves explained that he had, in fact, been advised on a proper interpretation of the Constitution that it was in order for the Attorney General to vote on matters such as electing the Speaker of the House, and that the AG was only excluded from voting in a motion to remove the Speaker.

Gonsalves was also of the view that there were alternative routes by which Friday could seek redress on the matter.

“At the end of the day, the Speaker has been duly elected,” Gonsalves noted.

He added that the minutes accurately reflect what took place and that the Opposition can take the matter up in the court for a declaration or can ask the Speaker for an independent declaration.

Friday further contended that the House was dealing with a serious matter.

“The point that I am making, if you say this is the improper place to raise the matter, we will take it up where there is the proper avenue,” Friday said.

The Speaker chimed in, stating that the record must stand, whether it is right or wrong.

He said that he will seek legal clarification on the matter at a later time. (DD)

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