|File: Herbert Volney ... won't fight Speaker's decision|
"I’m retiring I am going to opt out altogether,” Volney told a local radio station Monday. He added, "There will be a by-election and I will not be a candidate for any party or an independent at all. He said he has given politics his "best shot" and he wants to leave with "grace" and dignity.
Volney has said this before and later suggested he would fight the seat so the clarity on the matter would only be known when he makes his formal declaration of his intentions on Wednesday. The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Wade Mark, declared the seat vacant one week ago based on the constitution and a letter from the political leader of the United National Congress (UNC), Kamla Persad-Bissessar.
She wrote to Mark on August 26 pointing to section 49 of the constitution that provides for the leader of a political party to seek to have a seat declared vacant if the holder of the seat no longer represents the party on whose ticket the MP won the seat. In Volney's case, he won the St Joseph seat as a UNC candidate but resigned from the party and applied for membership in Jack Warner's Independent Liberal Party (ILP).
Mark announced on September 9th that in keeping with the provisions of the constitution and the relevant standing order that gave him the authority to act on the matter he declared the seat vacant with immediate effect. Volney's first reaction was to fight back and go to court, taking the matter all the way to the Privy Council. Warner advised him to let the people decide in a byelection but did not make a commitment to let Volney run as the ILP candidate.
Now that Volney has decided that he won't fight the Speaker's decision, he would have to hand in a resignation to Mark who would then officially announce that the seat is vacant. That would clear the way for the Prime Minister to announce a date for the byelection, the second to be held in this parliamentary term.
The election must be held not later than 90 days from the date the seat becomes vacant, which means that the election would be held before Christmas.
Commenting on the issue Monday, Persad-Bissessar said she will call the election when it is due. She said that is her constitutional obligation that she would uphold at all times. She has kept her pledge to do that going back to 2010, when she called the Local Government Election on time. She did the same with the Chaguanas West byelection and the 2013 Local Government Election, which is on October 21.
Persad-Bissessar told reporters that it matters not if her party wins or loses the election. What is important, she said, is that the election is held within the specified time to let the people determine who they would like to have as their Parliamentary Representative.
“I’m prepared for those various scenarios given the probability that we may lose that seat but I come back on principle on upholding the oath that I took in office upholding the Constitution and the law and in particular section 49,49 A of the Constitution in that regard as I said before win lose or draw I think it’s the right thing to do and therefore you do the right thing because it is the right thing to do,” Persad-Bissessar said.
The People's Partnership (PP) still has a strong majority in Parliament with 27 of the 41 seats. The UNC has 19, the Congress of the People (COP) has 6 and the other two are held by the Tobago Organisation of the People (TOP). Volney and Warner won seats as members of the UNC.
COP has indicated that it wants to run a candidate in St Joseph as a member of the PP. The leaders of the coalition would have to determine how they want to deal with the issue, since St Joseph was held by the UNC.
Last week the PM announced that COP member, Senator Ganga Singh, would be the caretaker for the St Joseph constituency but made it clear that it did not mean he is the MP.