SAINT JOHN’S, Antigua & Barbuda: The leader of the Opposition Antigua Labour Party (ALP) has accused Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer and two of his Cabinet ministers of “squatting” in Parliament and has put them on notice that a no-confidence motion will be laid when the House of Representatives meets later this month.
Lester Bird’s contention that Spencer, Tourism Minister John Maginley and Education Minister Dr. Jacqui Quinn-Leandro had no right in Parliament was based on a ruling by Justice Louise Blenman, who heard four ALP election petitions, that the seats of the three were not valid.
An appeal hearing is scheduled for next month but, in the meantime, Bird is insisting that “none of them has any right to be in the House of Representatives, let alone to exercise power as members of the government”.
“They are squatters – people occupying places in which they don’t belong,” he said in his weekly address last Sunday.
“I am, therefore, compelled to tell this nation now that when the meeting of Parliament is convened, the seven properly elected representatives of the Labour Party will move a vote of no confidence based on the fact that the UPP regime now legally holds only six seats in the House…We expect the Speaker to allow the vote of no confidence and we expect those who now squat in the House to withdraw from the vote which materially affects them,” said Bird.
In the March 2009 general elections, the ALP won seven seats, the United Progressive Party (UPP) took nine, and the Barbuda People’s Movement (BPM) won the Barbuda seat. The BPM is aligned to the UPP but Bird has also questioned that relationship.
Under the Constitution, the Barbuda seat stands on its own and a representative of Barbuda cannot cross the floor.
Bird said the “association of the representative of Barbuda with the UPP is legally dubious.
“His party has never announced that it has formed a coalition with the UPP. I now call on the Barbuda People’s Movement to declare when and where it formed a coalition with the UPP. This matter has been raised with the UPP-appointed Speaker in the House of Representatives and she has improperly ignored it…But this too will be challenged in the appropriate place and at the appropriate time,” said Bird.
Barbuda MP, Public Works Minister Trevor Walker, was the only one of the four election petitions to be dismissed by Judge Blenman.