UPP to picket Governor General’s Office four days straight!

Editorial Staff

Editorial Staff

The United Progressive Party has put the Governor General on notice that they will stage a picket outside his office on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday to show their dissatisfaction with what they say is a lack of progress into calls for a Public Inquiry into Antigua Airways

UPP’s Spokesperson Legal Affairs, Attorney Leon ‘Chaku’ Symister said yesterday that the picket will be just one of many measures that the party intends to take to continue to press for the establishment of a Commission of Inquiry

“On Tuesday, May 30, at 8:30 we will picket government house. We will picket the government on Wednesday the 31st, we will picket the government house Thursday the 01st and we will picket government house on Friday the 2nd…the Governor General should be at the Government House,” he said.

Two weeks ago, the UPP hand-delivered a petition signed by a few thousand residents, calling for Governor General Sir Rodney Williams to begin a Public Inquiry into the airline that has been at the center of controversy since it first landed on Antigua last November

The government said the Governor General cannot call any inquiry and it was so advised by two legal experts. Only the Cabinet can commission an inquiry according to the government.

“It is too expensive, it is completely unnecessary, and all the facts about the Antigua Airways and Cameroonians who reached here are already known. There is hardly any need for an inquiry to uncover facts we already know. This is all politics and we know that it is like the UPP politicians to play this game and they just are not going to win,” Hurst said

Earlier this week, Former Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister Justin Simon said the Antigua and Barbuda Commission of Inquiry Act gives the country’s Governor General the autonomy to call an inquiry into any matter without directives from Cabinet.

“We have to recognize that the Governor General can act independently, at his discretion in respect of several matters…When we go to the Commission of Inquiry Act Chapter 91 of the Laws of Antigua and Barbuda. That act states that it shall be lawful for the Governor General whenever he shall deem it advisable to issue a Commission appointing one or two Commissioners and authorizing such commissioners to inquire into the conduct or management of any department of the public service or in respect of any matter which, in the opinion of the Governor General would be in the public welfare,” Simon said during an interview with Observer

The senior attorney said that the provision is very clear adding that there is nowhere in the legislation that speaks to the GG needing the approval of any member of the Cabinet of the Antigua and Barbuda.

“The legislation goes further to give the Governor General the power to determine how many Commissioners should participate, who should be the chair, appointing the secretary of the Commission and also to direct the Commissioner of Police with the respect of ensuring security and good order during a commission of inquiry hearing”.

The GG, according to the Act, also has the responsibility to determine whether the inquiry should be public or private.

And, more importantly, covering the salaries of the Commissioners and the inquiry itself.

“The act speaks to that by ensuring that in section 17 the remuneration to be paid to any of the commissioners, their secretary, and any other persons employed, may direct payment of such expenses to be paid by the Accountant General out of the ordinary cash balance at the Treasury”, Simon outlined.

This again, he said, would not require prior approval from the Cabinet.

But Hurst said he is baffled as to why Simon would make such statements, knowing that the GG has no such authority


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