Sessions of Parliament with no public debate silences the voice of the opposition says Liburd

By Erasmus Williams

Basseterre, St. Kitts, February 22, 2018 – Chairperson of the St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party (SKNLP), Hon. Marcella Liburd said Wednesday sessions of the St. Kitts and Nevis National Assembly with debate silences the voice of the opposition.

Liburd, the Parliamentary Representative for St. Christopher 3 (Central Basseterre) condemned Speaker Hon. Michael Perkins and Prime Minister Dr. the Hon. Timothy Harris of abusing the purpose of the lawmaking body.

The high-handedness was pointed out while opposition parliamentarians and supporters protested outside Government Headquarters during a meeting of the lawmaking body which had no public business on the agenda to agenda.

“This is the fifth time we are having a session of the National Assembly without any debate and it is all aimed at shutting up the opposition,” Liburd, a former deputy speaker and speaker told the media Wednesday as opposition parliamentarians and scores of supporters prepared to mount a protest outside Government Headquarters during a session of the National Assembly.

During sessions without any bills to debate, Speaker Perkins of facilitating Ministers of the Harris-led PLP/CCM/PAM Government to turn the National Assembly into street-side political meetings to launch nasty personal attacks and lies not only on opposition parliamentarians, but also private citizens.

She accused Speaker Perkins of collusion with Prime Minister Harris in stifling democracy in the lawmaking body.

“Tell me where else in any democracy, where a Speaker colludes with the Government to completely shut out the opposition,” said Liburd.

Opposition parliamentarians are not allowed to respond to un-parliamentary language and baseless statements or even rise on a point of order to set the record straight, while scorn and vagabond emanate from the parliamentarians with portfolios under Statement by Ministers.

If any attempt is made Speaker Perkins rules that complaints in writing should be sent to him after the meetings have ended, knowing that the Standing Rules say issues dealt with at a previous sitting cannot be raised during a new session.

There have been sittings of the National Assembly were Statements by Ministers have lasted from 11 am to 5 pm. 

“This is clearly a dictatorship. The opposition must have no say. The speaker colludes with the government to keep a parliament with no public business. It is disrespectful to the public. The public sent us there to do their business and sessions of parliament are being held with no public business,” said Liburd, a former minister of Health, social and Community development and Gender affairs.

Speaker Perkins recently ruled that statements by the opposition during Personal Explanations must be submitted to him in writing prior to meetings of the National Assembly. That ruling was handed down following a sitting of the lawmaking body during which Leader of the Opposition, the Right Hon. Dr. Denzil Douglas used the opportunity to respond to a statement by the Attorney General on a matter which was sub judice and for which the rules forbid.


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