ST. VINCENT:- Speaker of the House of Assembly, Hendrick Alexander, has said that the Constitution of St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) must be respected at all times.
He emphasised the point on Thursday, March 3, after police evicted opposition members from parliament for disrespecting the Speaker’s authority.
“Seventeen years I have been a member of this parliament and I have never witnessed such disrespect for this honourable house as I have witnessed now. And, I must say, as long as I remain speaker of this honourable house, I will insist on all times that law and order be prevailed in this parliament and the constitution must be respected at all times,” Alexander said.
The opposition legislators were removed from the House of Assembly after what began with Eustace making a case for the withdrawal of a piece of controversial legislation that will absolve politicians from responsibility for untoward statements against each other during election campaign.
The proposed amendment to the Representation of the People’s Act (RPA), along with changes to the Criminal Procedures Code – which were passed in January but have not been assented to by the Governor General – have generated much public discussion and opposition protest in SVG.
Eustace told Parliament that Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves should withdraw the bills because they “infringe on rights [and] our freedoms and threatens our democracy”.
The opposition leader, however, having made his statement, refused to take his seat even after the Speaker repeatedly asked him to do so.
After exchanges between the Speaker and other members of the opposition bench, Gonsalves, acting at the Speaker’s request, moved a motion that the opposition leader be removed from the assembly chamber.
The other opposition members surrounded their leader and were also removed from the assembly chambers, during which Sen. Vynnette Frederick and Member of Parliament for West Kingstown, Daniel Cummings were said to sustain injuries.
“I have been a member of this parliament for 17 years continuously. I’m currently the longest serving member in this honourable house. And, what we have witnessed today, by the opposition has never occurred in this parliament. And, the reason why we have never seen something like this is that every elected member here hitherto always respected the dignity of this house,” Gonsalves said when parliament resumed.
He further said that the opposition members “came here collectively as we would say on the streets ‘to mek a bad!’
“They realised that the people do not support their protest and one can gauge that from what is happening outside. This is the third time – third failure – so they want as again the boys will say on the block ‘deh came here to ramajay’. But that is not the business of Parliament.
“We come here to make laws as Section 37 of the Constitution says, ‘to make laws for the peace, order and good governance,” Gonsalves further said.