Opposition Boycott of Ceremonial Sitting of Houses of Parliament branded as Churlish

ST. JOHN’S, Antigua and Barbuda – 24th June, 2014……Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda the Hon. Gaston Browne has chided Opposition Leader the Hon. Baldwin Spencer and members of the Opposition in Parliament, calling their planned boycott of the ceremonial sitting of the House and the Senate on Wednesday June 25, unwarranted churlishness.

On Tuesday, the Opposition Leader wrote to the Clerk of Parliament advising that he and his members will not be attending the sessions as the Opposition was not given seven clear days notice for the sitting which will only consist of members taking the oath, the election of the Speaker and the appointment of the Deputy Speaker and President of the Senate.

Prime Minister Browne, in his letter said that the Opposition Leader’s actions are unjustified.  “Getting done the business of the people by taking an oath is not a burdensome requirement.  The exercise will not require you to read any proposed legislation or to debate any bill.  There will likely be congratulatory statements only which is likely last no more than sixty minutes,” PM Browne pointed out.

“Your letter displays an unwarranted churlishness unbecoming of you, Sir.  It clearly suggests that you intend to have a belligerent relationship with the majority; yet, your words, issued on the morning of June 13, when it was apparent that the Government was sure to be in different hands – suggested that you would be taking a different path,” the Prime Minister’s letter outlined.

The country’s leader reiterated his party’s position that his administration is ready to carry out the people’s business – ready to rebuild.  “It is in the best interest of the Antiguan and Barbudan people to proceed quickly to get their business done, and swearing-in parliamentarians is the first step in achieving this objective.  Eliminating the unemployment inherited from your administration that so plagues our youth and adult populations is uppermost in our minds – we are ready to work.”

Before proceeding to select June 25 for the ceremonial sitting of the House and the Senate, the Gaston Browne administration sought legal advise from learned members of the legal fraternity and the Office of the Attorney General who all advised that the Standing Orders of the parliament can be waived, as is customary by the previous administration and that seven-clear days notice is not required due to the nature of the business of the House.

The House of Representatives will convene at 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday, followed by the Senate at 1:30 p.m. on the same day for the purpose of swearing-in members and electing their chairs.

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