On Tuesday, the Saint Lucia House of Assembly suspended Micoud South MP and opposition leader Allen Chastanet over his failure to apologize for and retract a statement alleging government corruption.
Chastanet made the allegation on Friday as he spoke about the sale of land at Bananes.
During Tuesday’s sitting, House Speaker Claudius Francis read the opposition leader’s statement to members.
“What is before me is not whether land is valued at twenty million or sixty million. It’s whether the transaction in the sale of the land to a client of an Attorney, whether corruption was attached to that sale,” House Speaker Claudius Francis explained.
“You have not made that case,” Francis told Chastanet.
“I am the judge in this chamber and I would ask you to withdraw the statements that I have read,” the Speaker declared.
After Chastanet said he would not and was preparing to leave, when Francis told him he should not before a ruling was made.
“Member, you shall not leave yet,” the Speaker stated.
“Officer, he shall not leave. Officer, he shall not leave,” Francis said to the police on duty as Chastanet exited the house, followed by two female officers.
The Micoud South MP returned to the chamber a short time later with the officers behind him and took his seat.
The Speaker drew members’ attention to Standing Order 43 (4) regarding disregard for the Chair’s authority and asked the members what sanctions, if any, they wished to place on Chastanet.
The leader of Government Business, Castries South MP Dr. Ernest Hilaire, rose to indicate that the Micoud South MP should again be asked to apologize and withdraw his statement, not being allowed into the chamber until he did so.
“Such disrespect in the House cannot continue Mr. Speaker,” Hilaire asserted.
The Speaker then indicated that the Chair’s discretion was limited only to a maximum of the next sitting.
But Francis explained that there was no such limitation on the House.
“If you ask me to put your question to the House, which is that the member – the Honourable Allen Chastanet, because the rules at this time do not permit me to refer to his constituency because you cannot sanction a constituency, that the Honourable Allen Chastanet be asked to withdraw the statement, issue an apology, failing which this Honourable House shall rule that he is not to be allowed within the precincts of the House until he does so – Is that your question, Leader of Government Business?” The Speaker said.
In response to an affirmative answer, the Speaker put the question to the House and members voted in favour.