At today’s press conference, the Opposition Leader Francis Fonseca also spoke on the Opposition walking out of Friday’s House of Representatives meeting after what he said was an abuse of power by the speaker.
Francis Fonseca – Leader of the Opposition
“The standing orders, and it is very important for the Belizean people to understand these things, the standing orders of the House make it very clear that the speaker can only summarily order the withdrawal of a stranger from the precincts of the National Assembly under Standing Order 87. The removal of a member of the National Assembly cannot be carried out in the same manner as the removal of a stranger and cannot be done summarily, so the legislative assembly the powers and privileges act makes clear that a stranger is any person other than a member or officer of the National Assembly. So, Senator Patrick Andrews is not a stranger, he is a member of the National Assembly. The speaker of the House therefore had no authority to order the summary removal of Senator Andrews from the House precincts. In so doing, the speaker acting in response to honorable Michael Finnegan has shown once again for his disregard for his role as speaker and of the rules which govern the National Assembly.”
Prime Minister Dean Barrow was asked about the Opposition’s stance as it relates to the actions of the Speaker of the House.
Prime Minister Dean Barrow
“The speaker is in charge of the house and is authorized to eject any person in the house including those that are members of the house. Andrews the fact that he’s a senator was neither here nor there, he was a stranger in the gallery he was not in parliament or in the house by invitation of the house, he was there as a stranger in the gallery and like all strangers he is subject to the rules of the house and to the speaker’s authority so that is complete nonsense.”
Fonseca assured supporters that their walk out on Friday was to drive home the point of unfairness.