Parliamentarians ‘uncomfortable’ sitting in National Assembly with member ‘who might be in violation of Constitution’
From the press unit in the Office of the Prime Minister
Basseterre, St. Kitts – Duly elected and appointed members of the National Assembly maintain their resistance to leader of the Opposition, Dr. Denzil Douglas, continuing to serve as a representative in the Federal Parliament while having a diplomatic passport of the Commonwealth of Dominica.
During the Nov. 14 sitting of the National Assembly, member for St. Christopher 8, the Honourable Eugene Hamilton, as well as Attorney General the Honourable Vincent Byron Jr. said they are uncomfortable sitting in the Parliament with anyone who is in a position to be disqualified from the Honourable House.
Hamilton, in his capacity as leader of Government Business, formally brought the matter to the attention of the Speaker of the House of Assembly, the Honourable A. Michael Perkins, by way of a letter dated Oct. 23.
Addressing the National Assembly, Minister Hamilton stated, “There’s every good reason for any constituent and citizen, and every good reason for the Office of the Attorney General to institute proceedings against Dr. Douglas, and I would expect no less as I am uncomfortable with having him – or anyone for that matter – sitting in this Parliament in violation of our Constitution.”
Senator Vincent Byron Jr. echoed similar sentiments to those expressed by Minister Hamilton. The attorney general noted, “This government is deeply concerned that we should have someone who sits in our Parliament who is in a position to be disqualified.”
As such, Minister Byron, in his capacity as attorney general, said the government has sought legal advice and has “begun proceedings to go to the Court under Section 36 of the Constitution.”
Section 36 (1) (a) of the Constitution of St. Christopher and Nevis, which looks at “Determination of questions of membership,” states that “the High Court shall have jurisdiction to hear and determine any question whether (a) any person has been validly elected as a Representative.”
Section 36 (2) adds that “an application to the High Court for the determination of any question under subsection (1)(a) may be made by any person entitled to vote in the election to which the application relates or by any person who was, or who alleges that he or she was, a candidate at that election or by the Attorney-General and, if it is made by a person other than the Attorney-General, the Attorney-General may intervene and may then appear or be represented in the proceedings.”
Hamilton said this matter of the Opposition leader being the holder of a Dominican diplomatic passport resonates with him personally, particularly as it was the Denzil Douglas regime that initiated court actions against him to challenge the validity of his 2010 election victory over his possession of a United States green card. “But unlike the honourable member for No. 6, who is the holder of a passport issued by another country, I have never had the desire or intention to acquire another country’s passport, and yet I was hounded into court by the [former] government headed by the honourable member for St. Christopher 6.”
Given its serious implications, the honourable speaker informed the National Assembly that he has sought “proper advice” on the matter.
Prime Minister the Hon. Dr. Timothy Harris made the startling revelation to the nation during his Oct. 3 press conference that Dr. Douglas held and has travelled on July 30th, 2015, on a diplomatic passport issued by the Commonwealth of Dominica. That diplomatic passport, which bears the number DP0000462, also lists Douglas’ nationality as Dominican.