|Happier times ... PM Kamla Persad-Bissessar with MP Herbert Volney |
at a political meeting in St Augustine earlier this year
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar has asked Speaker Wade Mark to take the action against former cabinet minister Herbert Volney who has resigned from the United National Congress (UNC) and has joined Jack Warner's Independent Liberal Party.
Persad-Bissessar has written to mark as leader of the UNC pointing out that under the provisions of Section 49 of the constitution she considers it her constitutional duty to seek the speaker's intervention to make Volney's seat vacant.
Her letter, which is dated August 26, states that Section 49 (A) of the Constitution make it clear that an MP who resigns or is expelled from the party on whose ticket she/he fought an election should no longer hold that seat. Her letter is copied to Deputy Leader Nela Khan.
"Section 49A of the Constitution clearly sets out the steps that must be taken by the Speaker of the House of Representatives in these circumstances. Having brought to your attention the fact that Mr Volney is no longer a member of the UNC, I call upon your good self at the next sitting of the House of Representatives to perform your constitutional duty by declaring that Mr Volney has resigned from the UNC," Persad-Bissessar stated in her letter.
“I await your declaration at the next sitting of the House of Representatives, in accordance with Section 49A of the Constitution that Mr Herbert Volney has resigned from the UNC.”
She has made it clear that she considers it her duty to act against Volney.
“As the Political Leader of the UNC, I consider it to be my constitutional duty under Section 49A of the Constitution to inform your good self that by virtue of his resignation, Mr Volney is no longer a member of the UNC, the party for which he was a candidate when he was elected as the Member of Parliament for St Joseph in the May 24, 2010, parliamentary elections,” Persad-Bissessar stated.
Mark is in South Africa attending a Commonwealth Parliamentary conference and is unlikely to be present for Friday's sitting of the House. In that case the Deputy Speaker would preside and the decision about Volney would fall on her.
While the constitution specifically refers to the Speaker as the one to make any declaration of a vacancy, the Deputy Speaker takes on the responsibility of Speaker and may be qualified to make such a decision. If Khan declines, then Mark would likely rule on the matter when the House meets again on Monday for the national budget.
Volney has stated that he would challenge the move against him up to the Privy Council, the country's highest court. He would have 14 days following the declaration of the vacancy to take legal action.
Commentary: Volney cannot eat his cake and have it too
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