The Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) has recommended that politicians should have the flexibility to resign from their elected positions immediately after winning their seats, according to a report released earlier this week.
This suggestion stems from a controversy involving Mark Vanterpool, a former Fourth District Representative and Communications and Works Minister, who attempted to resign immediately after his victory in the 2019 general elections.
This suggestion comes in the wake of a controversy involving Mark Vanterpool, a former Fourth District Representative and Communications and Works Minister, who attempted to vacate his seat (resign) immediately after becoming successful at the 2019 general elections. The report also referenced the removal of former Premier Andrew Fahie in 2022.
In the 2019 case, the court ruled that Vanterpool could not officially resign before being sworn into the House of Assembly (HOA) and before a Speaker was appointed, as the constitution requires resignation letters to be addressed to the Speaker.
Vanterpool’s resignation letter sent to the HOA Clerk was deemed invalid since it did not follow the constitutional procedure outlined.
The CRC’s report proposes amendments to the constitution to clarify that elected officials have the right to resign at any stage post-election. It suggests that provisions be made for resignation letters to be addressed to alternative figures in the absence of a Speaker or if the Speaker is unavailable.
The recommendation aims to uphold the constitutional intent that allows elected members the liberty to step down, balancing this against the financial and administrative burdens of elections and by-elections, as noted by the Commission and highlighted in the court’s judgement on the Vanterpool case.
“Whilst the Commission agrees that, as pointed out by the learned judge in her judgement, elections and by-elections come at a considerable cost to the taxpayers of the territory, there is a clear intention in the Constitution to afford elected members the right to resign,” the report stated.
It was pointed out that this is in contrast to the position in the United Kingdom, where members of Parliament cannot directly resign their seats.
The Commission also noted that several constitutions allow elected members to resign in circumstances where either the Speaker’s office is vacant or the Speaker is absent or unable to perform their function.
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