Prime Minister Allen Chastanet says events taking place in the St Lucia House of Assembly towards the end of last week, represents a proud moment for him and the people of the country.
In a message on his Facebook page, Chastanet said history made on Friday with the appointment of three new Senators in the upper house.
In explaining the events which led to the emergency appointments, the Prime Minister said that since the introduction of the COVID-19 bill, there has been much controversy amongst the public.
Accusing the government of failing to consult before introducing the COVID-19 bill, the opposition walked out of Parliament on Tuesday, just before the bill was adopted by the House of Assembly.
When the Senate met on Thursday to give ascent to the measure, that also failed as the opposition failed to show along with the two independent Senators who wrote to the President indicating that they were both ill.
However, the Government was able to gain passage for the Bill when the Senate met on Friday, following the scheduled appointment of a government senator to fill a vacancy and the temporary appointment of two independent Senators.
In his missive, Prime Minister Chastanet acknowledged that the government and the opposition were at odds as a result of the appointment of the senators, but noted that despite all the criticism, this was a very proud moment for him and all St. Lucians.
“Eight of the persons occupying the senate Friday, six of them are women and what’s most amazing is the contributions these women are making,” said Chastanet.
In regards to the appointment of senators for the sitting on Friday, which some have described as illegal, the Prime Minister said the President dealt with the situation which was present at the time.
“Unfortunately, you had two independent senators that were sick. There’s certainly a lot of interpretations out there. I am not a lawyer, I don’t think that the constitution ever contemplated that the senate could not conduct business.
“I am satisfied with the two independent senators which are in appointment of the governor. We have it on our side when there are MPs that travel or are sick, the constitution allows us to temporarily appoint somebody, so there is nothing that is peculiar about the situation.”
The Prime Minister went on to say that the Governor-General felt it fit that given the senators were sick and the business of the house had to proceed, that he had to appoint other senators.
“The great thing about the Governor-General is that he is very experienced in politics and he has invested a tremendous amount of his time in understanding the constitution. I know he is passionate about his constitution so I can assure you that every perimeter of this situation was analyzed by everyone.”
Chastanet says the new bill is not a complicated one. He says the only difference is instead of using a state of emergency, it was changed to a COVID Bill: “You will always have persons wanting to question whether there was a better way to write something. That’s consistent throughout time. We cannot argue with success, so what we have put in place, the drafting that we have used, the laws that we have come up with, I do not believe in any way that we have limited persons’ civil liberties.”
He went on to say that St Lucia has been a leader in handling COVID-19 and is one of the few places which has learnt to live with the virus.
Since St Lucia implemented pre-testing, the Prime Minister says that other countries have followed suit and he is proud that the island has been very successful so far in a difficult situation.
Chastanet also advised citizens to be safe during the scheduled holiday weekend activities and events’ which includes a demonstration by the opposition St.Lucia Labour Party over last weeks’ events and what it describes as other missteps and atrocities attributed to the ruling United Workers Party.