By Dominica News Online
Speaker of the House has categorically denied using her authority to push for by-elections, and has opined that she is being used as a scapegoat by members of the United Workers Party (UWP).
“I’m using my power to push for by-elections?” How do I end up doing that? The rules are clear … I don’t have any say; the rules are there that’s it,” Alix Boyd Knights remarked in response to a question from a Dominica News Online reporter following accusations by the UWP.
Last week, Knights announced that she had informed UWP elected members Edison James and Hector John of the Marigot and Salisbury constituencies that she was declaring their parliamentary seats vacant, after they had missed three consecutive sittings of the House of Assembly without requesting leave or to be excused. However, the two UWP members recently said that Knights had no such authority to declare seats vacant.
“You missed three times you’re out. Norris [Prevost] knew he’d be out so he jumped and came in … he probably felt his chances were not that good [at a by-election] … whatever his reasons he came.
“I get the impression that I am being used as a scapegoat. What use is by-elections to me personally?” the House Speaker asked, advising the UWP elected members: “if you don’t want by-election you come to parliament.”
According to her, she does not own the House of Assembly and she adheres to the rules in the execution of her duties.
Knights claimed that James is asking her to validate his boycott by accepting a letter of information about being absent from the last sitting of Parliament, as a request to be excused. This puts her in a very difficult position, she said.
“So if I tell him I’m validating your boycott and say you’re excused. Am I carrying out my duties as speaker?”
But James has accused Knights of being confused and cunning, adding that he is not afraid.
“The Speaker gave as her reason for not granting us leave because we did not ask for leave but there is no rule to that effect. Not Standing Order 15, 1 or any other section,” James said.
Knights seems to be on a mission to do her battle with the UWP, James believes. “The people of Marigot have given the license to me to be their representative and I am sure that they will continue to do so because they have confidence that we are capable of representing their interested in whatever field,” he added.
Knights was appointed speaker of the House of Assembly for the third consecutive term this year, following the December 18, 2009 general elections.
“I don’t own the House of Assembly; I’m just passing … I don’t own Parliament; I’m jut here to do the job and I do it to the best of my ability… I go by the rules. They’re particular areas which gives me discretion I don’t have the liberty, just the luxury… What they’re saying I should convert a letter of information into a request of leave to miss Parliament. How can you deal with people like that?” Knights noted.
Meanwhile, Leader of the United Workers Party Ron Green said the speaker’s move to declare seats vacant is worrying, since he has alleged that she is helping Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit achieve his dream of realizing a one-party state.
“This action is in keeping with the Delices declaration where he declared openly that he wanted a one-party stay. The speaker knows why we were absent. Letters have gone to her and I am not aware that she devoted one ounce of energy towards solving this problem,” he said.
According to him, she is happy to carry out the bidding of Skerrit to get the Opposition out of parliament.
He noted that the party will decide whether the two members will participate in a by-election.