Members of the opposition Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP) today staged a walkout of parliament, accusing the government of abusing parliamentary procedure.
At a news conference later, opposition leader Philip J. Pierre told reporters that the United Workers Party (UWP) administration is attempting to stifle this country’s democracy.
“The opposition will not be part of that,” Pierre stated.
He recalled that about eight weeks ago the member for Castries South, Doctor Ernest Hilaire, informed the Speaker of the House that a negative motion would be tabled in the house asking it to negate the changes made by the government to the Citizenship by Investment (CIP) programme.
“We had discussions with the Speaker and all was in order,” Pierre told today’s new conference.
But the opposition leader noted that when the order paper was released for the meeting of the house this morning, it was observed that the matter of the motion by the member for Castries South has disappeared.
“It was there up to last night but this morning it disappeared,” Pierre noted.
He asserted that all the processes and procedures required for the laying of a motion in the house were met by the member for Castries 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 said.
He stated that the SLP believes that the government is abusing its power.
Pierre said it was part of a pattern being followed by the current administration.
“You may have noticed the attack on reporters. You may have noticed the attack on private citizens. You may have noticed the attack of the Prime Minister calling people hypocrites and liars in public,” he said.
According to Pierre, the government always seems to be ‘deflecting’ facts.
“We believe that the government does not want the people of Saint Lucia to hear what they have done as far as the CIP programme is concerned. We believe that the changes in the CIP programme are a risk to our national security,” he said.
The SLP leader said that his party believes members of the public should be aware of what the government intends to do and how many persons have been given Saint Lucian passports.
He said the SLP is of the view that that the government should give full disclosure on the reasons why it did not want the people of the country to hear the debate on the CIP, even though all the procedures were followed.
“We will not be part of that and we intend to continue to show the people of Saint Lucia that this government is vindictive, dictatorial – it abuses power,” Pierre disclosed.
He asserted that if the UWP administration can behave in such a manner after less than one year in office, one can imagine what would happen when they are in power for a longer period of time.
Pierre declared that the opposition has been very tolerant and disciplined, allowing the government to do what it has to do.
But he said the SLP believes the time has come when it has to take a stand to protect this country’s democracy, patrimony and people.