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Mar 5, 2020

Opposition Calls for Debate on No-Confidence Motion

John Briceño

A motion for a vote of no-confidence against Prime Minister Dean Barrow and his government prompted a rowdy start to this morning’s Special Sitting of the House of Representatives. The contentious debate on the Opposition’s motion came in the afternoon, but the drama began playing out as the first order of business today. The motion is an act by the Opposition to indicate that it has lost all confidence in the PM’s ability to govern and effectively run the affairs of the country.  It comes on the heels of numerous scandals, as well as a decision by the Supreme Court determining that the Minister of Finance spent more than a billion dollars illegally and in violation of the Finance and Audit Reform Act.  There was no possibility that the motion would pass because the government side was not about to break ranks, so why would the Opposition proceed to float the motion?  Strategically, it portrays the Opposition, as the government in-waiting, bolstering the calls for fresh elections.  Here is how it started this morning.


John Briceño, Leader of the Opposition

“As you know, we submitted a motion of no-confidence and I see that you have it towards the end of the House Meeting and we believe, on this side, that we should debate that first.  I mean there is so much that we should discuss even before we talk about the budget.  There is this legal case where the Supreme Court found the Minister of Finance illegally spending one point five billion dollars.  I think that we should, I believe that we should discuss it before.”


Julius Espat

Julius Espat, Area Representative, Cayo South

“Speaker, precedence has been set for the first time in this country, Madame Speaker.  For the first time in the history of this country, a sitting prime minister has been found guilty of spending the people’s money.”


Laura Tucker-Longsworth, House Speaker

“Okay, I am sorry member.  I cannot… please take your seat.  Member, please take your seat…”


Julius Espat

“Madame Speaker, he will be reading the budget and we will be processing it Madame Speaker because it is unlawful.”


Laura Tucker-Longsworth

“Kindly take your seat.”


Francis Fonseca

Francis Fonseca, Area Representative, Freetown

“Madame Speaker, you are ruling that in accordance with Standing Order Number 23-4 that, I am not sure what your ruling is, 23-4 that the business shall take precedence over the business…”


Laura Tucker-Longsworth

“Government business.”


Francis Fonseca

“Just a point of clarification Madame Speaker, this is no ordinary motion, Madame Speaker, and I would have hoped that the House would have come prepared with an understanding of the importance of a no-confidence motion.  This is no ordinary motion, Madame Speaker, this notice of motion has been properly brought before the House in accordance with Standing Order 26-2 and 31. This convention, Madame Speaker, is founded on the recognized position of the opposition as the potential government in waiting which guarantees the legitimacy of such an interruption of the normal course of business.   Very important, interruption of the normal course of business…  I would certainly urge you to appreciate that this no-confidence motion must be given priority and precedence over all other matters, including the reading of the budget.  In fact, it makes every sense, Madame Speaker, for the House to determine whether or not it enjoys the confidence of its members before proceeding with the important business of presenting the budget for the new fiscal year.”

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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