By Davion Smith, BVI News Staff
Attorney General Baba Aziz has been asked to give his opinion on whether it is appropriate and lawful for Ingrid Moses-Scatliffe to remain as Speaker of the House of Assembly if she plans to be a political candidate in the upcoming general elections.
The Speaker personally made the request after receiving pressure from a number of legislators to confirm or deny media reports that she will be contesting the elections under the National Democratic Party (NDP) banner.
Scatliffe-Moses did not answer those calls to publicly verify her reported candidacy.
“It is at least two members in their address mentioned about ‘rumours’ and I thought the House of Assembly was a house of fact. So, you are asking me to confirm a rumour,” she said before asking the Attorney General to ‘address the concerns’ at the next sitting of the House scheduled for October 2.
This makes me ‘uncomfortable’
NDP legislator Dr Kedrick Pickering, as well as Opposition legislators Andrew Fahie and Julian Fraser, were among the members who called for answers during Thursday’s spirited sitting of the House.
Dr Pickering said the notion of a sitting Speaker becoming a political candidate makes him “uncomfortable”.
“Let me make that abundantly clear – I don’t see anything that says it legally wrong. But understanding that parliament is one of the bedrock of the democracy and that ‘debate’ is the fundamental basis of any parliament, it raises the questions. And, it is in that context that I have my discomfort,” Dr Pickering said.
Can Speaker be partial as alleged NDP candidate?
He then questioned whether Moses-Scatliffe’s impartiality as Speaker is compromised by her alleged candidacy.
“To be putting oneself as a candidate in upcoming elections and sitting in the position of such authority allows not only great unfair advantage to somebody but it may question the whole processes within the House and that in itself, to me, is an abuse of privilege.”
“We can’t start fooling around the institutions that build the democracy. It’s like fooling around with the judiciary.”
No response is its own response
Fraser later stood in the House and said he shared Dr Pickering’s concerns.
He said Moses-Scatliffe owed it to members of the House to deny or confirm the ‘rumours’.
“If you declare it to be so Madam Speaker, I have the same concerns about whether or not you can be the person we elect to be our Speaker … that impartial individual that we saw when you [first] came up here to be our Speaker.”
While contributing to the discussion, Fahie said the situation does not warrant the Attorney General to get involved.
“I think it’s a simple ‘yes’ or a simple ‘no’. I don’t think it’s up to anybody to bring anything because not answering is an answer,” Fahie said.
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