Antigua and Barbuda
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Opposition MPs condemn and reject restriction of public attendance at swearing-in ceremony

Leader of His Majesty’s Loyal Opposition, Jamale Pringle (File photo)

We, the duly elected Members of Parliament, condemn Gaston Browne’s undemocratic and highly dictatorial imposition of seat allocations for the swearing-in ceremony of newly elected parliamentarians on February 17, 2023.

By letter from the Clerk of the House and directed by Gaston Browne – in breach of the separation of powers protocol – Opposition MPs have been restricted to 10 invitations each for family members and constituents.

This means there will be only 80 seats, or 28 percent of the 290-seat gallery of the Parliament, for the Members who represent 47 percent of the 17 constituencies and 53 percent of the popular vote in the January 18, 2023 General Election.

In this country, the democratic practice for the people’s participation in the swearing-in ceremonies for Members of Parliament provides for attendance on a first-come first-served basis.

It has always been up to the people, in the spirit of their involvement in the election process, to witness their elected representatives take the oath of office.

Accordingly, we note the convenient departure from settled practice – supposedly to invite Members of the Diplomatic Corps to the ceremony and thereby limit the space available for members of the public.

We are resolutely opposed to this tyrannical intervention by the leader of the Gaston Browne Administration to punitively restrict access to our constituents at the 2023 swearing-in ceremony in Parliament.

We have extended open invitations to our constituents to attend the ceremony and therefore demand, in the spirit of “government of the people, by the people, for the people,” that appropriate arrangements be made to accommodate all those who wish to attend this extremely important event in our parliamentary democracy.