Wednesday, January 23, 2013

THA to formally convene without Minority Leader

 Orville London Leader of the PNM
Tobago Council
The absence of a Minority Leader of the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) will not stop the inauguration of the new executive tomorrow at the THA's Assembly Hall. This was the sentiments expressed by Orville London, leader of the People's National Movement (PNM) Tobago Council. London indicated that he has been in discussion with President George Maxwell Richards about this unprecedented situation in the THA, in which there is no official opposition, and was advised that the Assembly can be convened. 

London noted that the position of Minority Leader will be declared vacant on Thursday and that no minority councillor will be appointed. He further noted that this is the first time the Assembly will have to function with 15 members instead of the customary 16. Adding that he would support a motion in the Parliament 

London indicated he would support a motion in Parliament authorizing the President to appoint two councillors of the Assembly in a case where there is no Minority Leader.  Stating that he would also indicate this to the Prime Minister by way of Letter. 

He informed the media that the THA would be formally convened tomorrow, while Secretaries would be sworn in on Friday at President's House in Tobago.

There have been concerns expressed about a lack of Opposition voices in the THA following Monday's clean sweep of the 12 seats in the election by the PNM. A situation which have not gone unnoticed by the Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley. 

However, political analyst Derek Ramsamooj yesterday said a total PNM win for the THA should cause no fear whatsoever with respect to the decision-making processes of a clearly defined executive majority in the assembly. noting that there were numerous examples throughout the history of the Commonwealth where political executives have won without legislated opposition.

"We remember the no-vote campaign in T&T in 1972 resulting in no elected opposition. We can also recall that in 1986, the NAR had a clear majority 33-3, and therefore could have changed the Constitution any way they chose.

"Again in 1999 in Grenada, Keith Mitchell, leader of the main New National Party, won all 15 seats; so there are instances in the Commonwealth that followed the Westminster political system, where a political entity would have won all the parliamentary seats."

He said that is why the "Constitution of our countries separates the legislature from the executive and the judiciary, which therefore allows for internal checks and balances. We can all remember in the 18-18 of 2001 election and, in that regard, the President used his discretion".

Ramsamooj said the Constitution has the capacity to curb any form of legislative or executive act that may be viewed as unconstitutional.

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