Opposition leader Philip J. Pierre has defended this week’s opposition walkout from parliament over the refusal of Prime Minister, Allen Chastanet, to withdraw a statement to the house.
During Tuesday’s sitting Chastanet asserted that opposition members cannot even substantiate their own lies, prompting an intervention from Speaker Andy Daniel.
Daniel told the Saint Lucia PM that it was un-parliamentary to refer to any member as a liar and asked him to withdraw the statement.
But Chastanet said he refused to do so, asserting that far worse had been said in the house prior to his statement and stuck to his guns despite several requests from the Speaker.
The PM urged the Speaker to take whatever action he wanted.
His actions prompted an uproar from the opposition side who subsequently walked out of the parliament.
Speaking afterwards, opposition leader Philip J. Pierre observed that in parliament persons cannot be sued for slander or defamation.
He noted that the only recourse that the Speaker has is to ask that a statement be withdrawn or be struck off the records.
“All the Prime Minister had to do was to obey the rules of the parliament – have the necessary respect for the Speaker and simply withdraw the statement,” Pierre said.
He said the Saint Lucia Prime Minister after arguing with the Speaker, blatantly refused to withdraw.
“In our opinion as the opposition, there was blatant disrespect for the parliament and disrespect for the Speaker,” the Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP) leader and Castries East MP explained.
He stated that as a result, the opposition felt it could not be part of the proceedings and walked out.