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Volney to Resign
St Joseph MP Herbert Volney is set to resign this week. The resignation is likely to take place days after Speaker Wade Mark declared the seat vacant in the face of Volney’s resignation from the United National Congress on July 30. His seat was declared vacant on Monday by Mark in Parliament. A source told the Sunday Guardian that Volney will meet with a small group as early as tomorrow to issue a statement on his resignation as MP.
Volney, who has since aligned himself with Jack Warner’s Independent Liberal Party (ILP), has 14 days to legally challenge or accept the Speaker’s ruling. Under Section 49 A (4) of the Constitution, Volney, according to a statement by Mark, is required to cease to perform his functions as a member of the House of Representatives with immediate effect.
The prospect of a by-election in St Joseph has already drawn interest from television personality Errol Fabien, as well as from the Congress of the People (COP). Fabien intends to contest as an independent.
On Thursday, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar announced that Minister of the Environment and Water Resources Ganga Singh was caretaker of St Joseph. He will listen to the concerns of constituents until a decision is taken by the courts or a by-election is called. The PM also stated that the Government did not fear any by-election in St Joseph and was prepared to face a battle at the polls or the court.
The COP also jumped into the political fray with its leader, Prakash Ramadhar, stating that his party was also ready for a by-election and would negotiate with the partners to field a COP candidate. Ramadhar said in 2007 the COP had a wonderful showing in St Joseph and he intended “to keep those matters open to possibilities”. At a political meeting at Piggott Corner in Belmont on Friday, People’s National Movement Leader Dr Keith Rowley called on the Government to announce a by-election for St Joseph.
Rowley said as Volney’s matter goes before the courts, millions of taxpayers dollars will be spent on legal fees by the State. The Prime Minister, Rowley said, did not come to the Parliament to have an amendment to the Standing Orders, which she could have done. As a result of this action, Rowley said, Volney will head to the court to argue that the Speaker broke the law and was “judge, jury and executioner” and he was unfairly treated. “You have been paying for their folly and stupidity,” Rowley told supporters.
On Thursday, Volney told the Sunday Guardian that he would not return as a candidate in the next general election but warned that a by-election may come. “Who knows, that might be my trump card.” Volney said he intends to “go back to private life and spend time with my family”.
Asked if he resigned as MP if he would re-contest the seat, Volney said, “I have said it from long ago...at least a month ago, that I have no intention of returning to electoral politics. There is no doubt about that in anybody’s mind. Why would I want to go back into politics? For what? I have more to do outside of politics than in politics now. That is it for me. I have done three years. Everybody wants the seat, so maybe they should all fight for it.”
Yesterday, asked on reports that he intends to resign as MP, Volney said, “In the fullness of time everybody’s questions will be answered. That is my call.” Volney said he was not anxious about the decision he has to make. Up to late last night Volney remained a political nomad. Sources within the ILP yesterday disclosed that Volney, already resigned from the United National Congress, has not yet been accepted as a member of the ILP. “We have not yet seen his application,” the party member said.
The source said that while “tens of thousands” of applications have come in, the group inputing the names in the electronic database have not come acrosss Volney’s name just yet. “I am not saying he did not apply because he said that he did, it is just that to date the executive has not had sight of it,” the source said. The source said with high profile applications like Volney’s, the executive decided to maintain its open door policy.
“All are welcome but they will not be automatically elevated to executive positions, they would be ordinary members,” the source said. The party’s leader yesterday said that Volney will not be the party’s automatic candidate to re-contest that seat under the ILP banner. While that statement raised questions about Volney’s political allegiance to Warner, the ILP leader said it was actually out of respect for Volney’s wishes that he would not be chosen to re-contest that seat if he (Volney) decides to resign.
Warner also confirmed that his party was screening people to contest the St Joseph seat. Warner’s party was preparing for local government elections, but he said the party was ready for a by-election in case Volney resigned the seat. The ILP leader said Volney will not be the ILP’s automatic choice for the seat as Volney had stated on several occasions that he would no longer participate in electoral politics. “The ILP will respect that position,” Warner said in a brief telephone interview yesterday.
Warner said he will respect Volney’s wishes even though he (Warner) resigned and re-contested his Chaguanas West seat on July 29, which he won by a wide margin. The preparations for the seat are ongoing even as Volney has decided to legally challenge his eviction from Parliament. Before he exited Parliament on Monday, Volney shook Warner’s hand and seemed to take solace in Warner’s words “this too shall pass” before he left the chamber.
Since then, Volney has remained vocal about using the High Court to challenge what he deemed to be his illegal removal from Parliament under the Crossing of the Floor Act. He has since maintained that Mark did not have the authority to remove him from the chamber under that act. “The ILP has already begun screening for local government elections, we plan to contest all 136 seats,” Warner said. Warner also said in reference to the St Jospeh by-election, “We shall win the seat.”
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