No bye-election for vacant seat
By ANDRE BAGOO Friday, August 1 2014
WHILE Anil Roberts has reportedly written to Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar stating he has resigned as Member of Parliament for D’Abadie/O’Meara, a bye-election will not ensue, Parliament sources said yesterday.
Section 69 (3) of the Constitution states: “Where a vacancy occurs in the House of Representatives within the first four years of the life of the Parliament, a bye-election shall be held to fill such vacancy, not later than 90 days from the date of the announcement by the Speaker of the vacancy.”
Because the term of the current Parliament opened on June 18, 2010, (after the outcome of the May 24, 2010, general election) the Tenth Parliament passed the four-year mark on June 17, 2014, Parliament sources said. This means the bye-election provision will not be triggered, as the resignation falls outside of the four-year period stipulated in the Constitution.
Instead, constituents in D’Abadie/O’Meara will have no voice in Parliament and will have to simply wait until the next General Election, due by September 2015 for the latest, assuming no national emergencies.
Speaker Wade Mark was yesterday not in the country and is due to return from an official trip to Barbados tomorrow.
In the interim, Deputy Speaker Nela Khan presides. A resignation may be effected by either the Speaker or Deputy Speaker. Khan could not be reached yesterday.
It is understood that a statement on Roberts is likely to be made on Monday at the opening of the fifth session of the Tenth Parliament at the International Waterfront Centre, Wrightson Road, Port-of-Spain.
On Monday, the new Standing Orders will apply, offering another avenue by which the resignation may be effected.
If Roberts resigns from the political party he contested the D’Abadie/O’Meara seat under, the Congress of the People, the new Standing Orders stipulate the Prime Minister will have to write the Speaker informing him of the decision. Under Section 49(A) the seat is declared vacant fourteen days after the MP resigns from the party.
Congress of the People political leader Prakash Ramadhar said as of yesterday Roberts had not resigned from the party, though he had been on suspension relating to the previous allegation of uncooperative conduct over inquiries into a video.
What the PM said
“I continue to be disillusioned, disappointed and distressed by the level of deception and dishonesty associated with the well intentioned Life Sport programme. The background is well known.
At the hint of corrupt practices I immediately ordered that the initiative be switched to the Ministry of National Security and instructed an independent audit be conducted. After the findings of this audit were made available, I instructed that the report be sent to the Acting of Commissioner of Police, the Integrity Commission, the Head of the Public Service and the DPP for consideration.
But even as we await the finding of these independent institutions on the matter, the usual duties of the Minister of Sport are being burdened with the mounting controversy and questions surrounding the Life Sport programme.
I have allowed due process to occur, I have demonstrated patient allowance for all sides of the story to be heard through an independent audit. I have given careful consideration to the rapidly emerging issues and have resisted quick judgment and rash decision.
The election of this government has changed the political landscape. The expectation of the public that something will be done when wrongs are committed in public office are now the hallmarks of good governance.
Consequently, I have decided to accept the offer of resignation as Minister of Sport from Mr Anil Roberts. Further I have advised His Excellency, the Acting President of Trinidad and Tobago Timothy Hamel-Smith that with effect from today Thursday July 31st 2014 in accordance with the provisions of section 3 (9) and 79 (1) of the Constitution of Trinidad and Tobago that the appointment of Anil Roberts as Minister of Sport be revoked and that Dr Rupert Griffith be assigned responsibility for Ministry of Sport in addition to his present duties as the Minister of Science and Technology.”