Monday, 20 August 2012 02:30
By caribarena news
Antigua St. John's - Governor General Dame Louise Lake-Tack has broken her silence on her exclusion from the inauguration of the OECS Assembly, stating she was disrespected.
The head of state also took issue with the removal of national items from the parliamentary chambers.
"What the devil is wrong with our national flag that it should be removed, the mace and the laws of Antigua & Barbuda, to accommodate any other Assembly?" Dame Louise said heatedly in an unscheduled call to Observer Radio's Big Issues programme on Sunday.
She quoted Section 27 of the Constitution of Antigua & Barbuda that states that Parliament should consist of Her Majesty, a Senate and a House of Representatives.
The Governor General labelled the matter serious and cited as an example the incident in 1999 when Willmoth Daniel lost his seat to Sherfield Bowen and contested it.
According to the governor general, the court ruled that Bowen was unlawfully served by the bailiff because he was given the summons in the parking lot of the Parliament building.
"When Ms. Isaac wrote her article and said no disrespect to the Governor General she was very, very far from the truth," she said.
The head of state also accused those in authority of trying to cover the faux pas by speaking, within days of the inauguration, about her absence from the meeting.
She was referring to comments made by Speaker of the House of Representatives D. Gisele Isaac-Arrindell, who was part of the committee that organised the August 10 Assembly meeting.
In response, the House Speaker said what the GG stated was absolutely true if she was speaking about a national Parliament, but as she noted, this was a regional meeting.
"Parliament can be anywhere that the members of Parliament designate. In Grenada, if I'm not mistaken, there's not even a Parliament building that is workable and so they meet in another place," she said.
"I'm not going to get into a war with the Governor General as to whether she thinks she was deliberately disrespected or not, because every argument that she brings up was brought up at the committee stage and we were willing to concede that in the interest of the regional body, if we are going to use this national building certain concessions will have to be made.
"If she wants to call me a liar on that account, and why she thinks I would want to disrespect her, is beyond me," the Speaker said.
Isaac-Arrindell used as an example, the suspension of opposition Member of Parliament Gaston Browne several months ago because it was deemed he had disrespected the Parliament in light of the presence of the mace and the Speaker.
At the same time, she noted, students from the Antigua State College utilised the same area because the mace was not present.
"We have done no damage at all to the Constitution, none," the House Speaker said firmly.
"If we have an earthquake tomorrow, God forbid, and the Parliament building is wrecked we will never have Parliament again until a new building is erected? Not likely. We will find a school room, a church hall a tamarind tree and we will say Parliament will be held here. We'll put the mace down, that would be Parliament," she said.
"We're making too much of the building, we're losing the big picture in the small details. And if regional unity is not a big picture then what is the point of the OECS this past 31 years?" the House Speaker added.
Just last week, she and opposition member Molwyn Joseph were at odds over the arrangements for the regional assembly meeting.