The question has once again been raised about whether former Premier Andrew Fahie’s First District seat in the House of Assembly (HOA) will become vacant and a by-election triggered to select his replacement.
Interest has been re-ignited yet again as Fahie
is set to miss a third consecutive sitting of the HOA this week following his arrest in April, and as the territory draws ever closer to the prospect of general elections in the new year.
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 his trial is not expected to begin until mid-January of next year.
During the Fourth Sitting of the Fourth Session of the House of Assembly in late July, Speaker of the House Corine George-Massicote said she would not be granting Fahie
leave/permission to be absent from any future sittings of the House until his circumstances in the United States change.
Premier Dr Natalio Wheatley previously stated that a by-election will be triggered within 60 days once Fahie
’s seat in the HOA becomes vacated, but later said that he wanted to check the language in the Elections Act to determine what discretion exists on the part of the Governor in calling by-elections.
When asked at a recent press conference what will happen once Fahie
misses his third consecutive House sitting without permission from the Speaker, Premier Wheatley appeared cautious in his response not to preempt any likely outcome.
Dr Wheatley reminded reporters that House members can vacate their seats by resigning and by missing three consecutive sittings in the HOA.
“So, if by the time that third sitting finishes — which could take a while based on the length of the order paper, I mean this last sitting took probably about 2 months — so, it could take a while, because we have some heavy-hitting subjects on this order paper, including the Liquor License Act and the Police Act,” the Premier said.
The Premier also noted that the likelihood of a by-election being called for Fahie
’s vacated seat, may possibly be affected by the amount of time that remains before the general elections are constitutionally due early in 2023.
“When that sitting… is concluded, and if Honourable Fahie
has not taken part or has not participated, the seat will vacate,” Dr Wheatley said. “And then according to the Elections Act and depending on the amount of time before the election, a by-election can be called.”
He added: “There are situations of course, where you wouldn’t have a by-election and that depends on how close the seat becomes vacant before the dissolution of the House of Assembly.”
A similar situation occurred after the Fifth District seat became vacant following the untimely demise of former legislator, Delores Christopher in 2018.