All eyes will be on the Road Town Multi-Purpose Sports Complex today, as the Virgin Islands convenes for the opening of the Fifth House of Assembly (HOA).
While many may be anxious to see how new and seasoned elected officials will perform over the four-year term, most will agree that the opening of a new legislative term signals the narrow escape the territory made last year when the UK came close to snatching power away from local representatives.
Today’s opening of the House is also an occasion where there could be the appointment of a new speaker.
Reports are that Corine George-Masicotte who served as the last Speaker, could be challenged for the post by Dancia Penn-Sallah, KC.
Sallah is a former Attorney General and served as an elected member in the House of Assembly between 2007 to 2011.
Masicotte on the other hand, also a lawyer, has only been speaker for over a year.
The position of Deputy Speaker will also be up for grabs. According to Section 69(4) of the constitution, no one holding a ministerial position in government should hold this position.
But this will be an issue for the VIP-Lorna Smith coalition as all members of the government currently hold minister or junior minister posts.
In the meantime, four persons are set to start their inaugural terms as members of the House of Assembly—they are:
Lorna Smith, Deputy Premier and Minister for Financial Services, Trade & Labour; Luce Hodge Smith, Fourth District Representative and Junior Minister for Tourism & Culture; Dr Karl Dawson, First District Representative and Junior Minister for Agriculture & Fisheries; and Stacy Mather, At-Large Representative under the Progressive Virgin Islands Movement.
Mather forms part of a tripartite opposition that is made up of members from the National Democratic Party, the Progressive Virgin Islands Movement and Progressives United.
The Fifth House of Assembly will also see the return of former elected members Ronnie Skelton and Myron Walwyn. Skelton served in the HOA between 2003 to 2007 and both he and Walwyn both served in the HOA between 2011 to 2019.
It will be Skelton’s second time serving as Opposition Leader.
It will also be the first time since 1999 that there will be a six-member opposition in the House — the last time being 1999 when the NDP contested the election for the first time.
Proceedings for the Fifth House of Assembly are scheduled to begin at 10am on May 18.