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West Basseterre MP Konris Maynard accuses Speaker Perkins of muzzling him in the National Assembly

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Published 24 May 2017

West Basseterre MP Konris Maynard accuses Speaker Perkins of muzzling him in the National Assembly.

BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, May 24th 2017 – The youngest member of the St. Kitts and Nevis National Assembly, Hon. Konris Maynard who was ejected from a meeting of the National Assembly on Tuesday has again accused the controversial Speaker Hon. Michael Perkins of “stifling democracy” of “aligned to the government” and “having an agenda.”

“For too long now, I feel that I do not have a voice in the Parliament that I was sent to. I was not voted to be on the streets, or in the alleyways speaking with my constituents. They want me to bring their issues to the House, to the Parliament, where it matters, where we can make a change, where we can have an input in the national debate. I have been denied an opportunity many times,” said Maynard on a Special Edition of Ask the Leader on Kyss 102.5 FM on Tuesday night.

Maynard told listeners Tuesday’s ejection from the Parliament is one of several egregious actions taken by the Speaker against opposition parliamentarians

“I recall we were not even given an opportunity to contribute on an Income Tax (Amendment) Bill. Not a single word,” said Konris, the first term St. Christopher 3 (West Basseterre) representative.

Maynard said he stands firm in his belief that Speaker Michael Perkins “is seemingly totally aligned to the government, to the point where he is stifling democracy in the place where it should be most evident.”

“Free speech is a right we have in our constitution. In the Parliament, we are even given more leverage when it comes to free speech that it is even protected. But yet I am unable to exercise that free speech in Parliament,” said Maynard, who explained he stood simply for an opportunity to ask a question on the delivery of the prime minister in the honourable house.

“The House is to remain honourable and if persons are misleading the House, I have a right to stand and ask for it to be corrected. You do that by standing and asking for a Point of order or I was simply seeking clarity if the Speaker is not going to allow a Point of Order. This is a disgrace and the Speaker appears to anybody looking on, to be a puppet of somebody or with an agenda. That is unfortunate in our modern day democracy and we cannot stand for it. And I certainly will not stand for it as long as it is in the rules of the Parliament,” said Maynard.

“We have a right, a fundamental right to speak in the Parliament where the people’s issues need to be debated. This Speaker, whether he is directed, whether it is him, he obviously has an agenda to keep the opposition silent, but we will not be silent.”

Asked to leave the National assembly, all opposition members also left the chamber.

Last December 13th the Parliamentary Opposition, filed a Motion of No Confidence accusing Speaker Perkins of exercising partiality in decisions against its members, unprecedented and unmerited rulings and continually breaching Parliamentary Rules.

Speaker Perkins brought the matter to the first meeting of the National House in January 2017 but instead of placing it on the Order Paper announced he was rejecting it,

Although rejecting it, Speaker Perkins began to respond to the complaints made against him. Leader of the Opposition Rt. Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas protested but the Speaker persisted. Dr. Douglas and other opposition colleagues walked out of the Chamber.

The opposition later asked for a private meeting with the Speaker to resolve the issues but with the Speaker’s behaviour Tuesday it is evident the meetings were futile.

Speaker Perkins predecessor, Mr, Franklyn Brand resigned after less than one year in the post following persistent pressure from the Timothy Harris-led Team Unity Government “to manners the opposition.”

“It is hereby resolved that members of this Honourable House, but in particular members of the Parliamentary Opposition in St. Kitts and Nevis express grave concern regarding the erosion of the freedom of expression in the National Assembly of St. Kitts and Nevis” and further resolves “that members of this Honourable House, but in particular members of the Opposition no longer have any confidence that they will be treated fairly by the Speaker, respected by the Speaker, and given a fair opportunity to represent the interest of their constituents in this House by this Speaker.”

The Motion of No Confidence also resolves that the Honourable House “declares the actions of the Honourable Speaker to be impartial,” and “that in order to protect freedom of expression in this Honourable House so that the members of the Opposition can properly represent the interest of the members of their Constituencies in this House, the Members of this House and in particular the members on the Opposition Benches in the interest of the Federation call upon Hon. Speaker Mr. Michael Perkins to resign as Speaker of the National Assembly.”

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