Saturday 11 July, 2020

Comissiong: Governor General needs to announce election date

(File Photo)

(File Photo)

As pressure continues to mount on Prime Minister Freundel Stuart to make official the date for elections, social activist and attorney-at-law, David Comissiong is of the view Governor General Dame Sandra Mason needs to intervene.   

In a statement, Comissiong pointed to a "long list of national facilities and institutions", including Parliament, which has broken down under the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) administration. He listed the Barbados Water Authority (BWA) with the ever-persistent sewage issues on the South Coast, the University of West Indies (UWI), the National Stadium and the state of the economy as but a few of the problems.  

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"Ordinarily, in a situation such as this, we Barbadians would look to our country's Parliament, our House of Assembly and Senate, for some discussion, clarification, and rectification of this recent and additional manifestation of national "break down", but for the past six weeks or so our nation has not had a Parliament!" 

He said the "state of political limbo" Stuart has left the country in by refusing to announce the election date after the March 6 dissolution of Parliament is simply not good enough. Further to that, Comissiong suggested it may very well be unconstitutional as well.  

He said the current administration has subjected Barbadians to a "prolonged period in which our country would be devoid of a national Parliament". In light of this, Comissiong said the time was now for the Governor General to step in and announce the date.  

"Section 32 (1) (b) of the Constitution also tells us that our Governor-General does not have to wait upon or to be advised by the Cabinet or the Prime Minister in relation to 'any function which is expressed (in whatever terms) to be exercisable by (her) in (her) discretion'." 

A plain and literal reading of Section 62 (1) of the Constitution suggests that this duty of our Governor-General to set the date for a General Election is a duty that is exercisable by her in her own discretion. 

What therefore is Governor-General Sandra Mason waiting for?" 

Comissiong added if Dame Sandra had any doubts in her mind about the right of the GG to intervene, he suggested she approach the Supreme Court for an "interpretative declaration on the issue".  

"We Barbadians need to raise our voices and insist that our Governor-General bestir herself and take action either to set an election date or to seek clarification from the Supreme Court." 

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