Beautiful Virgin Islands

Monday, Oct 03, 2022

By-election may not happen after Fahie misses third House sitting

By-election may not happen after Fahie misses third House sitting

Former Premier Andrew Fahie may soon have to vacate his seat in the House of Assembly (HOA) once he misses a third consecutive sitting, but a by-election that will see him being replaced as First District Representative may not be automatically triggered once that happens.
Fahie currently remains on bond and confined to the home of his two daughters in Florida after being indicted on charges of money laundering and drug smuggling before a Miami court. And according to the rules that govern the HOA, a member shall vacate their seat, if he/she, in any one Session, is absent for more than three consecutive sittings without the written leave of the Speaker. HOA Speaker Corine George-Massicote said she will not grant Fahie this permission to be absent from any future sittings of the House under his existing circumstances.

With that in mind, Dr Wheatley stated last month that a by-election would held within sixty days of Fahie vacating his seat but the Premier has now indicated that this hasn’t always been the case in the past. He suggested that Fahie’s First District seat in the HOA may remain unfilled for months to come if recent precedent is to be followed.

“I want to look at the specific language, in the Elections Act to see whether there’s any discretion,” the Premier told reporters recently in response to questions on whether a by-election will be triggered once Fahie’s seat is automatically vacated.

“I believe there are previous instances where by-elections were not held right away. The last instance, of course, was the late Dolores Christopher where they held off on a by-election and went straight to general elections,”

The Premier further noted that there were other instances where a by-election was not immediately triggered, pointing to the tragic death of another former Legislative Council Member, Robinson O’Neal, who died in the late 1960s while in office.

“I believe in 1968 or sometime after the 1967 election where the late member of the House of Assembly O’Neal passed away in a car accident and it did not immediately trigger a by-election,” Premier Wheatley explained.

“So, I have to check and see what is discretion there for the governor to be able to have a by-election or not, but generally a by-election should be held after the seat is vacated; I believe, within about sixty days,” the Premier said.

General elections are due in the BVI early in 2023, but candidates going to the polls may be contingent on whether current government officials are able to adequately implement the ongoing Commission of Inquiry (COI) recommended reforms and stave off the threat of direct United Kingdom rule in the process, as initially recommended by the COI report.
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