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Time 9.30 pm and no Speaker elected

By Earl Manmohan Newsday

The House of Representatives adjourned for 75 minutes last night after members failed to nominate a candidate for Speaker.

The vote had just been taken on the fourth UNC nominee, Lynette Abraham of Laventille Road, Febeau Village, San Juan, when Leader of Government Business, Ken Valley, asked the Clerk of the House Jacqui Sampson-Jacent whether Abraham had consented to be nominated.

His question was supported by Planning Development Minister, Dr Keith Rowley, Health Minister, Colm Imbert and Information Minister, Fitzgerald Hinds, who joined in demanding that Abraham's consent be produced.

Sampson-Jacent as on previous occasions reminded the Government members that her role was only to receive nominations, adding that she could not rule on any matter raised by them.

UNC members in turn began shouting across the floor for the Government to produce the consent form of PNM nominee, Marjorie Thorpe.

Earlier, UNC leader Basdeo Panday told a press conference that Thorpe, minutes before, had told him she had not given her name for election of Speaker, and she was very upset about it.

There was a stand-off between both sides of the House. After waiting for some five minutes, Sampson-Jacent informed the House that she and her staff had been at work since 8am, and needed to resuscitate themselves.

She adjourned the sitting for 75 minutes at 8.15, to be continued at 9.30 pm.

Seconding the nomination of Justice Monica Barnes the PNM's fourth nominee, Dr Rowley told the UNC members that he wanted to make it clear that he did not want a Speaker, but wanted to carry out his duties that he had sworn to.

He said section 50 (1) of the Constitution ordered and mandated members to elect a Speaker, but by the UNC's actions they were undermining the Constitution, and, in effect, undermining the country.

"What you are doing here is to undermine the Constitution and prevent the country's parliament from functioning. And the reason for this farce is because you have a grievance," he said.

Rowley told the UNC MPs that when they went out in the dead of night to attract PNM MPs, Dr Rupert Griffth and Vincent Lasse, to keep them in Government for four years they had no grievance then.

Up to the break, a large public gallery followed the proceedings, including UNC strategist and financier, Austin Jack Warner.

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The election of the Speaker, or not!
Time 9.30 pm and no Speaker elected
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