The Silly Season has revved up in full swing. The surrogates on both sides of the political divide have put on their armor and shield. The 2021 General Election is around the corner and everyone is walking on pins and needles.
My focus shifted towards addressing the narrative that was abuzz on social media for the past week. The United Workers Party surrogates were demanding that Hon Dr Ernest Hilaire resigns as the representative for Castries South. Shouldn’t his constituents be the ones to decide whether he stays or go? The surrogates were intimating that he should abandon ship, as a result of comments made in Dominica. His comments were much to do about nothing. It was merely political satire which I would not give wings to fly.
They also demanded that he should resign because of a pending court case in reference to his Land Rover Discovery Sport.
In a bid to put this matter to rest, I solicited the expertise of an International Law and Policy Expert. The Constitution of Saint Lucia, Lawyer’s letter and Court Summons were all forwarded for his perusal.
Upon reviewing the information the following were his findings:
INTERNATIONAL LEGAL AND POLICY EXPERT FINDINGS
Upon reviewing the letters and the summons, the matter is administrative and would not fall within disqualifications outlined by the constitution. The matters stems from a failure to produce the requisite documents for importing his SUV for tax purposes.
He would have had to commit a criminal tax fraud for him to even be considered up for disqualification. I note his lawyer’s letter stating that Ministry of Foreign Affairs should have made arrangements to pay the VAT. The standard is that for serving diplomats, taxes would be waived and normally done so in advance with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs sending to Customs the necessary declarations and waivers. I find it odd that the matter got to this level given the standard practice.
Therefore, it could hint to:
- His vehicle and other personal effects were not part of his assets at the time of moving out of office as a diplomat i.e., he bought them overseas and then sought to bring them in without paying tax.
- There is something afoot politically at Customs to target Hilaire.
However, I believe the former because there’s no way that St Lucia’s Customs Office would pursue this and not dialogue with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and its Permanent Secretary. So, in summation, he could be accused of being dishonest based on inherent inconsistencies from the letter penned by his lawyer.
He being a diplomat should have known about the waivers he’s entitled to, when moving to and fro from the Capital in his official capacity. It’s something that could have been easily worked out.
Sohria Alexander 2021 Election Projections Part 2
Sections of the Constitution relating to this matter.
34.- (1) A member of the House (hereinafter in this section referred to as a member) shall vacate his seat in the House at the next dissolution of Parliament after his election.
(2) A member shall also vacate his seat in the House-
a) if he is absent from the sitting of the House for such period and in such circumstances as may be prescribed in the rules of procedure of the House;
b) if he ceases to be a citizen; or
c) subject to the provisions of subsection (3) of this section, if any other circumstances arise that, if he were not a member, would cause him to be disqualified to be elected as such by virtue of subsection (81) of section 32 of this Constitution or of any law enacted in pursuance of subsection (2), (3) or (5) of that section.
(3) (a) If any circumstances such as are referred to in paragraph (c) of subsection (2) of this section arise because any member is under sentence of death or imprisonment, adjudged to be of unsound mind, declared bankrupt or convicted or reported guilty of an offence relating to elections and if it is open to the member to appeal against the decision (either with the leave of a court of law or other authority or without such leave), he shall forthwith cease to perform his functions as a member but, subject to the provisions of this section, he shall not vacate his seat until the expiration of a period of thirty days thereafter:
Provided that the Speaker may, at the request of the member, from time-to-time extent that period for further periods of thirty days to enable the member to pursue an appeal against the decision, so however, that extensions of time exceeding in the aggregate one hundred and fifty days shall not be given without the approval, signified by resolution, of the House.
b) If, on the determination of any appeal, such circumstances continue to exist and no further appeal is open to the member, or if, by reason of the expiration of any period for entering an appeal or notice thereof or the refusal of leave to appeal or for any other reason, it ceases to be open to the member to appeal, he shall forthwith vacate his seat.
c) If at any time before the member vacates his seat such circumstances aforesaid cease to exist, his seat shall not become vacant on the expiration of the period referred to in paragraph (a) of this subsection and he may resume the performance of his functions as a member.
(4) References in this section to a member do not include references to a Speaker who was elected from among persons who were not members of the House.
It’s going to be section 34(2) and onwards.
The particulars are in 34(3) 1) arise because any member is under sentence of death or imprisonment, 2) adjudged to be of unsound mind, 3) declared bankrupt or convicted or reported guilty of an offence relating to elections and if it is open to the member to appeal against the decision (either with the leave of a court of law or other authority or without such leave)
So, the court case will have to be competed but it depends on the nature of the court case.
The section can also be read with section 32 about which states:
e) is under sentence of death imposed on him by a court of law in any part of the Commonwealth or is serving a sentence of imprisonment (by whatever name called) exceeding twelve months imposed on him by such a court or substituted by competent authority for some other sentence imposed on him by such a court, or is under such a sentence of imprisonment the execution of which has been suspended; or
f) subject to such exceptions and limitations as may be prescribed by Parliament, has an interest in any government contract.
(2) If it is so provided by Parliament, a person shall not be qualified to be elected as a member if he holds or is acting in any office that is specified by Parliament and the functions of which involve responsibility for, or in connection with, the conduct of any election of members or the compilation of any register of voters for the purpose of electing members.
(3) If it is so provided by Parliament, a person who is convicted by any court of law of any offence that is prescribed by Parliament and that is connected with the election of member or who is reported guilty of such an offence by the court trying an election petition shall not be qualified, for such period (not exceeding seven years) following his conviction or, as the case may be, following the report of the court as may be so prescribed, to be elected as a member.
That sections deals with situations if he’s not a member but wants to be a member given certain circumstances. In 34, the mechanism is that if he is a current member and circumstances change that could also fall under rules prior to membership, those rules would also apply.
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