It appears as though there will be no by-election held to replace former Premier Andrew Fahie as the First District Representative.
Furthermore, his seat in the House of Assembly (HOA) will not be vacated for another few weeks.
Premier Dr Natalio Wheatley gave that indication after previously stating that Fahie’s seat will be vacated after an un-excused absence of three consecutive sittings of the HOA; the third of which finished just last week.
Fahie currently remains on bond and confined to the home of his two daughters in Florida, USA where he was indicted on charges of money laundering and drug smuggling. His trial is not expected to begin until mid-January of next year.
“I did give some clarity in the House because I was saying first that if you missed three consecutive sittings, the seat would be vacated but that was not completely accurate. It’s more than three consecutive sittings, which would be four, at minimum four,” Premier Wheatley said.
He continued: “So, we’ll be starting the fourth sitting on Tuesday and at the conclusion of that sitting, the seat would be vacated … unless the member [Fahie] shows up — which is unlikely — or whether the Speaker excuses [him], but we already know what the Speaker’s position is on that.”
During the Fourth Sitting of the Fourth Session of the House in late July, House Speaker 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.
Premier Wheatley said the next House sitting will have to be completed by November 12 for a by-election to be held to replace Fahie; a feat which he said looks very unlikely.
The Premier further explained that under the amended Elections Act, if the House dissolves within four months of when a seat becomes vacant, officials don’t have to go to a by-election. He added that a general election will instead be held in May as is constitutionally due.
“It’s unlikely that we’ll finish before November 12th because we have some very heavy bills on the Order Paper and a lot that we want to get accomplished before we have budget day,” Dr Wheatley stated.
After the Premier delivers his budget address on budget day, legislators have to go through what is called the Standing Finance Committee deliberation process. The Premier said legislators must, thereafter, have a budget debate before the year ends so a budget can be ready for January 1st.
“So, with some of the heavy things on the order paper, I don’t think it’s it’s likely that we’ll finish those before November 12,” Dr Wheatley stated.