Premier of the British Virgin Islands Dr Natalio Wheatley says that once the disgraced former Premier Andrew Fahie vacates his seat in the House of Assembly, a by-election will be held.
Speaking recently, Speaker of the House of Assembly Corine George-Massicote said she would not be granting Fahie leave/permission to be absent from any future sittings of the House until his circumstances in the United States change.
This means the former premier will be forced to vacate his seat as the constitution indicates any member who misses three consecutive sittings of the legislature without leave from the Speaker will have to be removed as a member.
According to Wheatley, he will look at the rules that govern the House of Assembly and the Constitution to decide how best to proceed with the matter.
“There are a number of ways where a member’s seat can be vacated, and it is well publicized that if you miss three sittings without having the permission of the Speaker then the seat would vacate. If the seat vacates, it would trigger a by-election and that’s what the constitution says I believe it is within 60 days of the seat being vacated and a by-election, under our Constitution, must happen if the seat is vacated,” Dr. Wheatley said.
The premier noted that the fourth sitting of the House held last week, was the first sitting Fahie missed as he was given leave by the Speaker on the prior sitting. Dr. Wheatley stated the sitting on Tuesday – the fifth– was the second missed by Fahie and the next sitting – the sixth– will be the third consecutive sitting missed by the first district representative.
In relation to the Speaker’s decision, Wheatley said he did not consult with the Speaker before her announcement, and he made it clear that George-Massicote is completely independent.
“She is independent of myself and any political party and that is a part of the reason we wanted to select her because she does not have any known political affiliations and we wanted to ensure that we had a speaker that would be straight down the middle. Not even perception of bias,” the premier said.
Fahie was arrested at the Miami-Opa Locka Airport in late April and is facing life imprisonment if convicted on the drug trafficking and money laundering charges brought against him by the United States government.