Governor Jaspert has declared that there will be no by-election for the Fourth Electoral District.
In a media statement Wednesday afternoon, Governor Augustus Jaspert sided with the representative-elect for the Fourth District, Mark Vanterpool, on the basis of law
He said: “I have received legal advice that has been copied to the Honourable Speaker (Julian Willock), advising that the resignation of the member-elect (Vanterpool) was invalid on the basis that the member-elect has no constitutional right to resign prior to being sworn in. Therefore, at this point, I do not intend to issue a writ for a by-election.”
Despite his position on the matter, the governor said he will not decide whether Vanterpool will be sworn in.
“The swearing in of the member-elect is a matter for the House to determine, having regard to the will of the electors in the constituency.”
The confusion began when Vanterpool submitted a letter addressed to the Clerk of the House outlining that he wished to resign. But the constitution says such a letter must be addressed to the Speaker. However, there was none at the time Vanterpool submitted the letter.
By the time the House appointed Willock as Speaker, Vanterpool changed his mind. Willock, however, contends that he has already accepted Vanterpool’s resignation, notwithstanding it being wrongly addressed.
Below is the governor’s full
I am aware of the Honourable Speaker’s latest statement relating to representation in the Fourth District.
This rightly recognises that I value democracy tremendously and the role it plays in good governance and improving the lives of the people of the Virgin Islands.
I have received correspondence from the Honourable Speaker that sets out his views on whether the seat is vacant. I am also aware that the question of whether the Fourth District seat is vacant is being contested by the Member-Elect of that district.
As with all matters, I will remain neutral and impartial and will be guided by the Constitution and the appropriate legal framework.
I have received legal advice that has been copied to the Honourable Speaker, advising that the resignation of the Member-Elect was invalid on the basis that the Member-Elect has no constitutional right to resign prior to being sworn in. Therefore, at this point, I do not intend to issue a writ for a by-election.
The swearing in of the Member-Elect is a matter for the House to determine, having regard to the will of the electors in the Constituency.
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