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Antigua-Barbuda opposition boycotts ceremonial sitting of parliament
Published on June 26, 2014 Email To Friend    Print Version

ST JOHN’S, Antigua -- Former prime minister of Antigua and Barbuda and current opposition leader Baldwin Spencer, along with other members of the parliamentary opposition, planned to boycott the ceremonial sitting of the House and the Senate on Wednesday.

Opposition Leader Baldwin Spencer
On Tuesday, Spencer wrote to the clerk of parliament advising that he and his members will not be attending the sessions as the opposition was not given seven clear days notice for the sitting, which will consist only of members taking the oath, the election of the speaker and the appointment of the deputy speaker and president of the senate.

Newly elected Prime Minister Gaston Browne chided Spencer, calling the opposition’s planned boycott “unwarranted churlishness”.

Browne, in a letter to Spencer, said that the opposition leader’s actions are unjustified.

“Getting done the business of the people by taking an oath is not a burdensome requirement. The exercise will not require you to read any proposed legislation or to debate any bill. There will likely be congratulatory statements only, which is likely last no more than 60 minutes,” Browne pointed out.

“Your letter displays an unwarranted churlishness unbecoming of you, sir. It clearly suggests that you intend to have a belligerent relationship with the majority; yet, your words, issued on the morning of June 13, when it was apparent that the government was sure to be in different hands – suggested that you would be taking a different path,” the prime minister’s letter said.

Prime Minister Gaston Browne
The country’s new leader reiterated his party’s position that his administration is ready to carry out the people’s business – ready to rebuild.

“It is in the best interest of the Antiguan and Barbudan people to proceed quickly to get their business done, and swearing-in parliamentarians is the first step in achieving this objective. Eliminating the unemployment inherited from your administration that so plagues our youth and adult populations is uppermost in our minds – we are ready to work,” Browne said.

Before selecting June 25 for the ceremonial sitting of the House and the Senate, the new administration sought legal advice from members of the legal fraternity and the Office of the Attorney General, who all advised that the standing orders of the parliament may be waived, as was customary by the previous administration, and that seven days’ clear notice is not required due to the nature of the business of the House.

The House of Representatives was due to convene at 9:30 am on Wednesday, followed by the Senate at 1:30 pm on the same day for the purpose of swearing-in members and electing their chairs.
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