Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar says her Government does not fear any by-election in St Joseph and was prepared to face a battle at the polls or the court.
“I took an oath to uphold the Constitution and the law and when the circumstances arose, as they did in this case with the resignation of the Member of Parliament for St Joseph, I upheld the oath that I took by informing the Speaker accordingly as the Constitution provides in section 49 A,” she said after the seat held by Herbert Volney was declared vacant by House Speaker Wade Mark yesterday.
“The matter went to the hands of the Speaker. The Speaker has now spoken and therefore Mr Volney does have rights under the Constitution as to the pathway he may take. The Government is prepared for any eventuality, whether it be with respect to legal action or whether it be to a by-election,” she added.
Mark yesterday declared the St Joseph seat vacant as Volney had resigned from the United National Congress (UNC). Volney has 14 days to legally challenge or accept the Speaker’s ruling.
“I’ve said win, lose or draw we must do the right thing because it is the right thing to do and should a by-election arise we do not fear that. It is within the law and it is within our democratic traditions and the foundations of our parliamentary system,” Persad-Bissessar said.
“Given that the standing orders were not there, my legal advice and my own advice to myself in this regard was that the standing orders would not preclude the action being taken, the declaration being made. As I said, it is now left to the honourable member whether he would take further steps or not. I am prepared and we are prepared for any eventuality, be it the legal challenge or be it a scenario where a by-election may be forced,” she added.
Also commenting on the matter, Congress of the People (COP) political leader Prakash Ramadhar said his party too was ready for a by-election and negotiation with the partners if need be to field a COP candidate.
“In 2007, we had a wonderful showing in that particular seat, so these are matters that we will keep open to possibilities, that we may want to consider that as a COP possibility. It does well for the cluster,” he said.
“I have always thought it a bit wrong that you go on a party ticket, you are elected and then leave the party without any consequence whatsoever,” said Ramadhar.
The Constitution, he said, must be obeyed and respected.
“..As a person I feel a little sad for Mr Volney but I do believe in law and order and unless we have clear rules we would not know where we stand and where we shall fall,” said Ramadhar.