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Members of the main opposition Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP) has held a press conference to explain their reason for walking out of this morning’s sitting of the House of Parliament.
The party said the action was in response to the failure of the Speaker of the House to allow the Member of Parliament for Castries South, Dr. Ernest Hilaire, to speak on the Citizens by Investment Programme (CIP) regulations.
Speaking at the conference held at his office, Opposition Leader Philip J. Pierre said the walk-out was to send a message to government that they are “abusing parliamentary procedure”.
“They want to stifle our democracy and the opposition would not be a part of that,” Pierre said.
He further explained that, “About eight weeks ago, the honourable member for Castries South (Hilaire) informed the Speaker that …. a negative motion would be tabled in the House… to negate the changes done by the government on the CIP programme. We had discussions with the Speaker and all was in order. When the order paper was released for the meeting this morning we noticed that the matter of the motion by the member of Castries South had disapppeared from the order paper.
“It was there up to last night, but this morning it disappeared. All the processes and the procedures required for the laying of a motion in the House was met by the member of Castrie South. The notice of six days was given and there was absolutely no reason why the motion should be removed from the Order Paper on the morning of the sitting of parliament.”
Pierre accused the government of “abusing its power” and pointed out what he called a “pattern” by the government to attack reporters and private citizens. He noted the alleged attack on private citizens by Prime Minister Allen Chastanet “calling people hypocrites and liars in public”. The opposition member further accused the government of “deflecting facts” to suit their agenda.
Pierre went on to say that he believes the government does not want the people to hear what they have done so far with the CIP programme.
Members of the Opposition believe the changes to the CIP by the government are a “risk” to St. Lucia’s national security, Pierre said.
He said the people should be aware of what the government intends to do, how many citizens have been given St. Lucian passports, and the government should give “full disclosure” on the reasons for their actions in the House this morning despite all the procedures being met by the opposition.
“We intend to continue to show the people of St. Lucia that this government is vindictive, is dictatorial, it abuses power. If it can do that after less than one year in office, we can imagine what can happen when they are in power for a longer period,” Pierre said.
He added that the opposition has been “very tolerant” and has allowed the government to do what it has to do.
However, he said the time has come to take a stand, to protect “our democracy”, “patrimony” and “people of St. Lucia”.
BELOW IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE SLP ON THE ISSUE
Opposition Saint Lucia Labour Party for debate was removed from the Order Paper on Tuesday, April 4th 2017 leading to the SLP Parliamentarians staging a walk out.
The SLP expresses its disappointment that minutes before the commencement of Parliament, the motion was removed from the Order Paper on the instruction of the Prime Minister.
The Saint Lucia Labour Party explains that when the Castries South MP, Hon Dr Ernest Hilaire sought to ask for further clarification on the process by which the Motion will be debated given that this is the last sitting of Parliament for the Parliamentary year, the Speaker of the House denied any discussion.
The SLP believes that the Government simply does not wish any debate on the Citizenship by Investment Programme and has refused to provide any information on the CIP as required by law.
The SLP believes that this latest move by the Government is testimony to the vindictiveness and undemocratic nature of the UWP Government and its desire to stifle free speech.