Minister of Tourism and International Transport, Hon. Richard Skerritt resigned his Cabinet post to assume duties as Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly. The controversial announcement came on Wednesday during the first convening of parliament following the January 25th general elections. There had been much national debate on the issue after Prime Minister Hon. Dr. Denzil Douglas announced the make-up of his new Cabinet and named former Deputy Speaker Hon. Patrice Nisbett of the Nevis Reformation Party as Attorney General and Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs. Members of the opposition parties Nevis’ Concerned Citizens Movement and St. Kitts’ People’s Action Movement had recently expressed no desire to assume the position, saying Dr. Douglas should have taken that factor into account before appointing his Cabinet. PAM’s Hon. Eugene Hamilton said prior to parliament convening that the PM would be forced to rescind one of his Senators’ ministerial appointments in order to fill the vacant Deputy Speaker position. On Wednesday Deputy PM?Sam Condor nominated Opposition Senator Attorney Vincent Byron Jr. for the position and PM?Douglas seconded the nomination. The Honorable Senator said while he was humbled and honored to be nominated for such a prestigious position he had to decline the offer “as a matter of conscience”. PM Douglas noted that he had attempted to include the Opposition but since they had demonstrated unwillingness, he appointed Skerritt. Hon. Mark Brantley, Opposition Leader, immediately challenged Skerritt’s nomination citing the section of the constitution which dictates that the Deputy Speaker position could not be held By an elected or appointed member of parliament. Hon. Curtis Martin, who was re-appointed as Speaker of the House during the same sitting also questioned the nomination. PM Douglas allowed the Attorney General to explain that Skerritt had resigned. The AG offered no other explanation nor did he say when the resignation was tendered. There was also no mention of who would take up the now vacant post of Minister of Tourism. However, at press time, information was released from the Prime Minister’s Office indicating that Deputy Speaker Skerritt has resigned the position, and has been sworn in as Cabinet Minister. The Observer will follow up on this story in next week’s edition.
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