Does the Speaker of the House Sir Gerald Watt have the power to accept or reject the resignation letter from St Mary’s South Member of Parliament Kelvin “Shugy” Simon?
That was the question posed to noted Attorney Leon Chaku Symister during a radio interview on Friday.
There are some who believe Sir Gerald has the authority to influence the decision made by the United Progressive Party (UPP) MP.
Symister said, “He has no right. Our constitution has a section that speaks about the tenure of seats of members of the House and a number of reasons someone may leave the House”.
“Subsection 2 speaks to where the seat of an elected member is vacant for any other reasons except a dissolution of parliament there shall be a by-election to fill the seat in the House vacated by that member and the by-election shall be held no later than 120 days after which the seat held by the member of the House becomes vacant unless Parliament is dissolved,” Symister said.
He later stated that it is not a question that the Speaker of the House can say he is not accepting the resignation.
Symister stressed that if a member decides to resign there is no way the Speaker can get them to come to Parliament.
Simon shocked the country when he announced his resignation on Wednesday. The action came ahead of a petition that was scheduled to be heard in the court challenging his ineligibility as an MP since, in the governing party’s view, he was nominated as a candidate while still being employed as a civil servant.
In his letter, Simon said the legal action threatens to drag on for another 12 months and the uncertainty of a protracted legal battle is unfair to his constituents.
He said there, he would vacate the seat to make way for a by-election which will put the entire case to rest.
The governing party, on the other hand, views the resignation as an attempt by the MP to avoid the courts.
What happens to the court case since the MP has now resigned?
Yet another question that was posed to the noted attorney. He said this puts all matters before the court to rest.
“Since Mr. Simon resigned some formalities will have to be taken before the court to bring the matter to a natural end and this will be taken off in short order”, Symister said.
He said such formalities could be handled by Simon’s legal team.
Meanwhile, speculations are rife that Senator Samantha Marshall, the other contender, will now have to resign from her position of Minister of State with responsibility for Social Transformation in order to contest a by-election.