St Lucia opposition leader files motion of no confidence in PM


(MENAFN- Caribbean News Now) By Melanius Alphonse
Caribbean News Now associate editor

CASTRIES, St Lucia — Leader of the Parliamentary opposition in Saint Lucia and leader of the Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP), Philip J Pierre, on Tuesday morning delivered to the clerk of Parliament a copy of a motion of no confidence in the prime minister and minister of finance. Allen Chastanet.

According to Pierre, the motion and the anticipated debate, will articulate the deep concerns, anxieties and the feeling of hopelessness among large sections of the Saint Lucian society about the uncaring and irresponsible manner that the business of the country is currently managed.

Since the appointment and installation of Chastanet as prime minister and minister for finance, economic growth, job creation and external affairs, Saint Lucia has been governed in a manner that has undermined its constitution, its conventions and practices, Pierre asserted.

'We have witnessed a growing abuse of public office, unreasonable and irrational decision-making, unsustainable fiscal deficits, squandering of the state's financial resources, and a debilitating decline in the public trust and confidence in the prime minister's ability to govern the country,' he said.

He accused Chastanet of abuse and contempt for the intentions of the constitution and parliament by failing, contrary to the provisions of the constitution, to nominate a person to serve as deputy speaker of the House of Assembly following the resignation of former deputy speaker Sarah Flood-Beaubrun and her subsequent appointment as a Cabinet minister.

The opposition SLP has indicated that none of its six elected members are willing to accept a nomination as deputy speaker and Chastanet's self-inflicted dilemma has been created by his appointment of all 11 elected members of his United Workers Party (UWP) as Cabinet ministers, thus disqualifying all of them from nomination and election as deputy speaker as required by the constitution.

This issue is currently before the courts as a result of an action brought by local attorney Martinus Francois and has been set down for trial on February 13, 2019.

Pierre also pointed out that Chastanet has refused to lay in Parliament for debate, a statement on the use of the funds in the Saint Lucia National Economic Fund established under the citizen by investment programme (CIP), despite pleas from the public and the opposition.

'The prime minister, by his failure to do so, has acted in breach of the Act, thereby contributing to growing suspicions about the lack of transparency and trust in the citizenship by investment programme,' Pierre said.

He also stated that the prime minister has recklessly and irresponsibly allowed the economy to descend into unsustainable deficits and has embarked on the dangerous path of having to fund those deficits by incurring more debt.

'The misguided actions and inactions of the prime minister as it relates to the health of the nation have plunged the provision of healthcare services into a deep crisis, created rising uncertainty, undermining morale among health care practitioners, and has now encouraged an exodus of trained nurses from the health care system,' he continued.

Pierre noted that some people, including members of government, have attempted to discredit this historic action by suggesting it will not prevail.

'My response to that is what will be the measure of whether it prevails or not, is it simply whether it gets the support of the majority of votes or not. We will not predict the outcome.

'Parliamentarians who are already deciding to vote against the motion before the debate takes place are setting themselves up as collaborators with Prime Minister Chastanet's callous and uncaring policies we will not predict the outcome. If at the end UWP parliamentarians decide to snub the people and support a prime minister who they do not hesitate to citizen in their own private circles, then the people of the country will have an opportunity to witness self-preservation over the interest of the nation.

'The opposition is calling on all House members, in particular, members on the government side, to place country above self, and support the vote of no confidence in the leadership of Allen Chastanet and that he resigns immediately as prime minister of Saint Lucia,' Pierre concluded.

Pierre's sentiments were echoed on social media:

'That vote might not succeed in parliament when it's called but it will mark a turning point in the future of politics in Saint Lucia for some on the governing side.

'All it would take is for three courageous and principled patriots to stand up and rescue the land of their birth from the hands of the marauder of our patrimony.

'History will not be kind to those who when they were confronted with moment of truth collapsed like a cheap lawn chair and chose self preservation, misplaced loyalty, and their narrow selfish gains over the fate of our beloved country and that of generations to come.

'This is our chance to make Saint Lucia ours again.'

Three out of the 11 elected government members of parliament will need to vote openly in parliament [not by secret ballot] in favour of such a motion [or cross over to the opposition side] in collaboration with the six opposition members, representing the magic number of nine for a motion of no confidence to succeed.

In the meantime, Caribbean News Now understands that there has been co-ordinated effort behind the scenes, whereby 'internal and external compatriots', as one source explained, are 'active on Cabinet and members of parliament to unseat Prime Minister Chastanet'.

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