Opposition Parliamentarians and their supporters held a protest outside government headquarters Wednesday afternoon onbjecting to the actionof Speaker Michael Perkins to suspend MP Konris Maynard for 10 days.
Maynard was suspended from the hallowed Chamber for what Perkins labelled undignified, dishonourable and calculated conduct designed to bring the House into disrepute.
On February 13 Maynard was named and immediately suspended from the National Assembly for for being in violation of the Standing Orders.
According to the government information service SKNIS it was the second time that MP Maynard had been named by Speaker Perkins for disrespectful behaviour, and the third time that he had been asked to withdraw from the Parliament.
During Wednesdays sitting of the parliament Maynard and all his other LabourOpposition colleagues boycotted the sitting and protested Speaker Perkins outside of Government headquarters with two dozen supporters.
Speaking with members of the press Maynard stated that Perkins had illegally and unlawfully carried out the proceedings of the Parliament. I have been suspended illegally from the parliament and the speaker, although we have written to him, has resistance as to what is the lawful thing to do.
He added that the opposition were in protest of what is happening with democracy in St. Kitts and Nevis. Let the opposition speak… the speaker must know that his role is to let the opposition have its say but he can let the government have its way because they have the votes. He needs to open two eyes and stop using one eye to see everything on the governments side.
He also disclosed that they are planning to take court action to ensure that democracy is upheld. We can go to the court and that is where we will have to go because, if you are going to have a gentleman who is blatantly disregarding the rules and procedures of the house he cannot unilaterally suspend anyone. Dr. Douglas was illegally suspended, I have been illegally suspended and we will go to the lengths and breadths that the law allows us to prove that that is the case.
He continued, … If the Speaker is resistant to changing that decision we have to move to the court. We must not allow our democracy to be threatened by a single man here.
He then went on to slam Wednesdays sitting of Parliament. Today, Parliament is being held without any public business, there is not going to be an opportunity for the opposition to speak because they are using and abusing the Parliament for political purposes
This is about the fifth time in the last three years the Parliament has met without any public debate. There is no public business just an attempt to show face to the public, an attempt to fool the public and we are standing against that, Maynard noted.
Maynard promised that they will keep up the pressure on the Speaker.
The Speaker and the Labour Opposition have been at loggerheads since he was appointed to the post in 2016. The Labour Opposition even filed a Motion of No Confidence in Perkins though it was struck down after it was determined that the said motion had irregularities.
The Observer contacted Perkins for a comment on the oppositions claims and stated that he continues to follow the rules that govern the Parliament. As far as my role in Parliament as the Speaker I can say to you that our Parliament is governed by what I refer to as a body of laws within our Constitution
Perkins then referenced the section of the Constitution that speaks how the National Assembly will function.
The Constitution states at section 44 Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, the National Assembly may regulate its own procedure and may in particular make rules for the orderly conduct of its own proceedings
Perkins said, The constitution gives Parliament the right to regulate its own proceedings and following the constitiution we have what we call the standing orders that set out the rules and order of parliament and apart from that there is the practice and norm of parliamentary procedure.
Perkins then defended the rulings he has made against the opposition members. I am still convinced and fortified in my view that as Speaker I have used and continue to use the law that is permitted. Part of the rules of parliamentary procedure gives the Speaker wide ranging discretionary authority, that what I have been using and what I will continue to use.
He also slammed the claims of siding with the government side of the Assembly. There is no basis for that statement, the opposition members know the manner in which they can challenge the decisions and rulings of the Speaker. They have never sought to use a legal mechanism by submitting a substantive motion before Parliament
The question I have asked over and over again is why the opposition ever move a substantive motion in the National Aseembly and challenge or have a review of any of the decisions of the Speaker, Perkins added.
Perkins stated that whenever he has to discipline a member it was because of total disrespect. With respect to the disciplinary action that I have found it necessary to use on members of the opposition thus far in each instance it had to do with the utter disrespect that members opposite was showing and total disregard of the Speakers authority.
That must not be pushed under the rug. I accept whatever criticisms is levelled at me but I would forever say that persons who are critical of the Speaker must also take into consideration the behaviour of members opposite. That level of behaviour I have not experience in one instance from a member on the government bench, but opposition members seems to think it is okay, the Speaker indicated.