Speaker of the House of Assembly, Jomo Thomas. (iWN file photo)

The hours-long efforts of Speaker of the House of Assembly, Jomo Thomas to salvage a motion on electoral reform came to naught in Parliament on Friday amidst hard-line stances on both sides of the aisle.

Friday’s meeting of Parliament was called especially to debate a motion tabled on April 23 by Leader of the Opposition Godwin Friday.

The motion was originally scheduled for debate on May 9.

However, because of the amount of time spent on Obituaries and Congratulatory Remarks during that meeting of the legislature, lawmakers agreed with a suggestion by Prime Minster Ralph Gonsalves, to allocate four hours last Friday for the debate.

However, on Friday, after the opposition leader’s motion was put to a debate, Gonsalves rose and proposed an amendment which, in essence, expressed confidence in the electoral system.

Friday’s motion, which had been seconded by Member of Parliament for Central Kingstown, St. Clair Leacock, an opposition lawmaker, urged changes to the nation’s election law.

It said that making changes to the Representation of the People Act and adopting other practical and effective measures will “ensure free and fair elections and restore public confidence in our electoral system”.

The motion fell apart after Thomas had suspended the sitting three times — once because of the intensity of the cross talk, another time to give members an opportunity to review Gonsalves’ proposed amendment, and a third time to allow opposition lawmakers to consult among themselves after the speaker ruled to allow the amendments to the motion.

There had been very intense debate about whether Gonsalves should be allowed to amend the opposition’s motion, with some opposition lawmakers banging on the table when Gonsalves was about to begin debate of the amended motion.

After much debate and some pointed questions at lawmakers, including the prime minister himself, Thomas ruled in favour of the amendment.

He said he was constrained by the rules of the House to allow the prime minister’s amendment, which had been seconded by Member of Parliament for South Central Windward, Saboto Caesar.

In staking out the position of opposition lawmakers after the third suspension, Friday said his side was willing to debate the amended motion only if, among other things, it included the “be it resolved clause” of his original motion.

That clause read, “BE IT RESOLVED that this Honourable House Support a motion to bring about necessary and desirable changes to the elections process in our country by amending The Representation Of the People Act and by adopting other practical and effective measures to ensure free and fair elections and restore public confidence in our electoral system.”

The four hours allocated to the debate expired without the motion or the amended motion going to a debate.

7 replies on “Motion on electoral reform falls to partisan politics”

  1. These People feel we dotish.For 17 long years the ULP ,have been putting stumbling blocks in the way of the opposition, on the one day they are allowed to bring a motion to parliament ,the find all kinda hearum scareum,giddy head bring ramgoat,excuses.The so called educated of this blessed hairouna,sit idly by and just play dumb.But as the old people say time longer than twine.What happened in parliament on Friday is a great travesty of our operations of parliament.Sir Louis,Ralph,Julian,Camello,and all the others SHAME ON ALLYO.God doh sleep ok.

  2. Elma Gabriel says:

    The reality is that ‘the motion of the electoral reform came to naught’ even before it commenced on Friday, as the heat within the SVG house of assembly was enough to ignite the island, regularly exterminated the live stream access on Lance’s workstation. Do we really wish to know why there is so much hostility within parliament?
    Jomo Thomas, the Speaker of the House came close to the point when he made reference to the attitudes to resolution since the beginning of SVG’s independence, questioning what may be the cause of the inability to carry through a motion to finality within this era of leadership. We all know the answer; one word ‘misapplication’.

  3. I must commend you on this article because for once your headline and report is a true reflection of the facts.

  4. Kay Bacchus Baptiste says:

    The Ralph amendment not only expressed confidence in the RPA it said the electoral system was sound and all elections in SVG were free and fair
    How could NDP accept that and vote on it ? Even Ralph was dishonest in amending the motion to say all elections under RPA were free and fair when he refused to accept the 1989 elections and brought the NDP ,who won those elections down ,by making the country ungovernable and challenging the result of those elections
    So who is playing politics ?

  5. C. ben-David says:

    The title of this news item implies that “partisan politics” does not always govern such partisan motions. The only motions receiving bi-partisan approval are innocuous ones that do not affect the welfare or standing of the ruling party.

  6. Hashtag Prince says:

    I was appalled to hear on air how the ULP wrecked the Opposition Leader’s motion with an amendment by the PM. The man just stir up strife and then sat back and laugh….quite a perfect picture of an evil aptitude. I kept wondering in my mind how can this be right? The PM was not the Originator of the Motion, so how could he amend it? I respect the Speaker but I think he went wrong in that regard of ruling. Plenty Pappy Show antics!!!

  7. Hashtag Prince says:

    I was appalled to hear on air how the ULP wrecked the Opposition Leader’s motion with an amendment by the PM. The man just stir up strife and then sat back and laugh….quite a perfect picture of an evil aptitude. I kept wondering in my mind how can this be right? The PM was not the Originator of the Motion, so how could he amend it? I respect the Speaker but I think he went wrong in that regard of ruling (entertaining the amendment). Plenty Pappy Show antics!!!

Comments are closed.