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Hosein: UNC considering legal action against Speaker – Trinidad and Tobago Newsday


Barataria/San Juan MP Saddam Hosein at Sunday's UNC media conference at the Office of the Leader of the Opposition in Port of Spain. - PHOTO BY SUREASH CHOLAI
Barataria/San Juan MP Saddam Hosein at Sunday’s UNC media conference at the Office of the Leader of the Opposition in Port of Spain. – PHOTO BY SUREASH CHOLAI

MP for Barataria/San Juan Saddam Hosein has said the UNC is prepared to take whatever action is required to rectify the events of the Sitting of the House and the Electoral College on Thursday.

Hosein was responding to Newsday’s question regarding Leader of the Opposition Kamla Persad-Bissessar’s assertion that House Speaker Bridgid Annisette-George’s guidelines, which debarred debate in the Parliament on Thursday, on a motion to appoint a tribunal to investigate the President, were illegal, null and void.

Annisette-George had said the Constitution did not provide for debate on such a motion.

At the UNC’s weekly news conference at the Office of the Opposition Leader in Port of Spain on Sunday, he said: “We will take whatever action is required, whether legal or in the Parliament, to rectify what has taken place. It is not likely that you silence the voices of elected Members of Parliament. There are over 309,000 people who voted for us.

“The Prime Minister, (former Police Service Commission (PSC) chairman) Bliss Seepersad and the President must answer for what led to us filing that particular motion.”

The Electoral College – which comprises all members of the House of Representatives and the Senate – on Thursday rejected the motion with all government MPs, senators and independent senators voting against it, while the Opposition bench voted in favour of it.

The motion came after the PSC’s collapse with all commissioners tendering their resignations, accusing Seepersad of acting unilaterally to suspend Gary Griffith as acting Commissioner of Police.

Persad-Bissessar accused Annisette-George of breaching the rules of the voting process by not allowing a secret vote in the Parliament.

On Sunday, Hosein said matters on future action are being decided and the party will report to the population when the decisions are made.

He said Section 36 of the Constitution provides for the procedure for the removal of the President via a tribunal.

“Nowhere in the Constitution says there shall by no debate. However, when you look at several other jurisdictions, (if) the nature of the motions brought forward is of a substantial nature, then it should be debated further.

“When you look at the type of motion that was brought, it’s not a procedural issue. It’s a substantive issue and that motion is a motion in the public’s interest. It calls for answers from high-ranking officials. In this case, there can be no more important issue brought in the public’s interests.”

Hosein said there is a unity of silence among the Office of the Prime Minster, the Office of the President, and the PSC.

“This motion contained the rights of the citizens to hold their elected officials to account. Under the Constitution, members are allowed freedom of speech in the Parliament.

“We hold strong to the view that those guidelines are unconstitutional and illegal. Section 28 of the Constitution holds that the Electoral College regulated its own procedure – not the Speaker, the Senate, or the House of Representatives. You must get the approval of the entire college to approve new regulations. That is assuming the Speaker was right in convening the Electoral College.”

He said there were no consultations on the guidelines with the Government, the Opposition, or the Independent bench.

“We needed to consult. That is a democracy. This was a novel motion, so therefore there should have been much more consultation.”

Hosein said the collapse of the PSC rests solely on Dr Rowley’s shoulders.

“He is responsible for what happens in this country.”

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