by Linda Straker
- First time in 9 years there is an elected Opposition Leader in Lower House
- Programme distributed before ceremonial event did not show 6 elected opposition members
- After 2-hour event concluded, new programmes were distributed
Opposition Leader Dr Keith Mitchell has described the omission of elected opposition members to the parliament on the original programme distributed for the ceremonial opening of the 11th Parliament as sad, strange, and not a good thing.
“That is a very strange one, I mean, I do not understand it, maybe you need to talk to the government side about that. The document is there every year; I don’t understand how it could have been left out, it is unfortunate, but I will not cast any aspersion, it’s sad and not a good thing,” Dr Mitchell said to the media in an interview after the ceremonial opening of the 11th Parliament.
This is the first time in 9 years that there is an elected Opposition Leader in the Lower House or House of Representatives. Following the 23 June General Election, the incumbent New National Party (NNP) only won 6 constituency seats while the National Democratic Congress (NDC) won 9 seats.
A review of the programme distributed before the start of the ceremonial event did not show the 6 elected opposition members. They are Dr Keith Mitchell member for St George’s Northwest; Clarice Modeste member for St Mark; Peter David member for the Town of St George; Delma Thomas Member for St Andrew North West; Emmalin Pierre member for St Andrew South East, and Kate Lewis-Peters member for St Andrew’s North East.
However, after the 2-hour event concluded, new copies of the programme were distributed, but by that time most of the dignitaries and invited guests had already left the building.
The joint ceremonial sitting to mark the start of the 11th Parliament saw all 28 members of parliament taking their oath of office, the election of Dr Dessima Williams as President of the Senate, and Leo Cato as Speaker of the House.
The Lower House also called the House of Representatives, consists of 15 elected members while the Upper House or Senate consists of 13 members. Seven are appointed by the Prime Minister while three are appointed by the Leader of the Opposition and the other three are independent senators representing the Trade Union Movement, the Business Community, and Agriculture/Fishing Communities.