Opposition leader Allen Chastanet believes he is not going to receive a good hearing when he makes an appearance before the House of Assembly Privileges Committee after being summoned earlier this week.
The Micoud South Member of Parliament was summoned to look before the Privileges Committee on account of two separate complaints filed against him by two members of the governing side namely Castries Central MP, Richard Frederick regarding his visit to the USA, and Castries South MP, Dr Ernest Hilaire over claims he had a joint account with Wahid Jufalli, deceased Saudi billionaire.
Chastanet is the primary parliamentary representative within the annals of Saint Lucian politics to be summoned before a ‘disciplinary committee’ of the Lower House.
“I feel that is all very recent….and the more responsible thing to do is to take a seat back and reflect,” declared Chastanet, on his preparedness for the committee hearing.
“I’m actually involved with a legal counsel…and to grasp myself what is occurring here,” he added.
Referring to the notion of ‘Natural Justice’ the Micoud South MP stated that, “There’s a thing called natural justice, of which each and every citizen of our country can judge for themselves.”
Noting his resentment to the Privileges Committee procedure, he declared that it was somewhat absurd that he could be exonerated, “going right into a situation where I’m going to be judged by my peers in parliament, of which the vast majority of individuals on that panel are going to be from the Labour Party. And to imagine that we’ve reached some extent of maturity in our life where individuals can de-robe themselves of their loyalty and dedication to the Labour Party, and to take a seat objectively and hearken to what the claims are.”
Chastanet states that with other MPs, within the individuals of Richard Frederick, Joachim Henry and Hilaire on the board, he doesn’t stand a likelihood of being judged fairly. The Board also includes Chastanet and his UWP parliamentary colleague Bradley Felix, while the pinnacle of the Privileges Committee is House Speaker Claudius Francis.
In an effort to substantiate his claims, the Opposition Leader declared: “To think at this point that the vote coming out of that Committee and greater than likely the vote coming out of Parliament, anything apart from down party lines, then we now have an understanding of where this thing is heading.”
In keeping with house regulations, the Committee of Privileges acts because the Parliament’s disciplinary board and adjudicates on matters that go against the Standing Orders of the House of Assembly.
Chastanet has asked that the hearing, which was scheduled for next Thursday be adjourned as a result of travel arrangements he had that will have placed him outside Saint Lucia. He said he wrote Francis requesting the adjournment.
The opposition leader contends that Hilaire’s motion contravened a breach of the Financial Act and that he (Hilaire) have to be held accountable for his alleged misdeeds.
Chastanet feels strongly that due justice is not going to be served together with his appearance before the Privileges Committee. He argued that it might should entail an exercise of ‘Natural Justice’ for him to be exonerated.
He added: “I’m currently reviewing the situation and I actually may have quite a bit more to say about this after I actually have gotten advice from my legal team.”