Progressive Democratic Patriots (PDP) deputy political leader Farley Augustine says Clerk of the Assembly Myrna Mc Leod has responded to the party’s legal action against her for allegedly failing to invoke and correctly apply the law and standing orders to select a presiding officer for the Tobago House of Assembly (THA).
On February 19, the six PDP assemblymen, through their attorney Lionel Luckhoo, issued a pre-action protocol letter to Mc Leod.
The letter, in part, called on her to reconvene the 12 assemblymen, in three days, so that the election of the presiding officer can be put to vote.
The PDP and PNM each won six electoral districts in the January 25 THA election.
But after meeting on three occasions, the 12 assemblymen have been unable to elect a presiding officer.
The House of Representatives passed the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) Amendment Bill, which seeks to increase from 12 to 15 the number of electoral districts on the island.
The bill, which required a slim majority of passage, also gives the Chief Secretary the power to call a fresh election.
The bill will be debated in the Senate on March 2.
Speaking to reporters after a PDP religious march in Scarborough on Friday, Augustine told reporters Mc Leod responded to the pre-action protocol letter on Thursday through her attorneys.
“Yesterday (Thursday), the clerk did respond in writing through her attorneys and we are just waiting on a brief from our legal team before we make our next step.
“As soon as our legal team is finished, because we saw it sometime late yesterday afternoon, sometime today we will have to all clear to send a copy of her response to you.”
Asked what was Mc Leod’s response, Augustine said: “The clerk basically responded to say that she has done basically what she is supposed to do legally, and we are not satisfied with that response.”
He said the party simply wants the court to give an interpretation of what should have been done legally to end the six-six deadlock in the assembly.
“Our intent is to ask the court for an interpretation. that is not adversarial. That is asking the court to say quite clearly what we should and should not do because clearly the others are out of ideas.”
Augustine also said passing the bill in the House does not resolve the problem because the Parliament of TT cannot terminate a duly held election.
“The Parliament can pass all the laws that it wants. It can only come into effect at the next election four years from now. The Parliament cannot force the closure of the THA.”
He added: “The Parliament cannot, with a simple majority, undo the will of the people. That will require a constitutional challenge to which that parliament did not have a Friday ago.”