HomeNewsErnest Hilaire clarifies controversies on deputy speaker selection

Ernest Hilaire clarifies controversies on deputy speaker selection

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Saint Lucia: Ernest Hilaire, the deputy prime minister of Saint Lucia, defended the appointment of the new deputy speaker and also Jeremiah Norbert in the cabinet of the prime minister in a recent media appearance, which is presented as an act against the constitution by the opposition.

It started just a few days ago when Jeremiah Norbert, an MP from Micoud North, was selected by PM Philip J Pierre to take over the new responsibilities in the cabinet under his guidance, after which a new deputy. Recently the leader of the opposition party raised questions on the constitutional validation of the process.

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Jeremiah Norbert was previously playing his role as the deputy speaker, which he left recently to join the cabinet as the minister for crime prevention and persons with disabilities. After his resignation, the process of selection for a new deputy speaker was underway.

The opposition highlighted their claim of an unconstitutional process being followed by the current government, they mentioned about Section 36 and said that an amendment to Section 36 necessitates that Section 30.

Section 36 allows the government to appoint any individual, who is currently not a part of the House, to take over the position of Deputy Speaker. Whereas Section 30 quoted by the opposition said that the law governs the composition of the House of Assembly, but the amendment requires a referendum.

Minister Ernest Hilaire tackled the claims of the opposition by schooling about the fundamental difference in opinion over the necessity of amending Section 30 alongside Section 36 while stating about the stance of the government.

Ernest Hilaire said, “The Opposition wrote a letter to the Attorney General. Before we could respond to him, they released it to the media in a press conference. We have a difference of opinion on it. In the letter, they suggested that the Court of Appeal be asked for an opinion. Anyhow, we have no difficulty in doing so.”

Ernest Hilaire also criticised the members of the opposition for their double standards and frustration about their failure where they were not able to appoint a Deputy Speaker during the previous tenure which is also not constitutionally right.

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He said, “This is the opposition who did not appoint a Deputy Speaker for long five years in breach of the constitution. We have all learned our lesson from that. The people of Saint Lucia can be sure that we have no intentions of breaching or disrespecting the constitution.”

In the end, he also declared the current position of the government on the issue and stated that the government doesn’t want to get involved in any controversy and they are just looking forward to the proceedings of the court.

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