Twisting my words
Professor George Belle has adamantly restated his position that the Freundel Stuart Government could fall before its five-year term ends, and flayed detractors for misrepresenting his past statements on the issue.
Further, he said that his statements at a People’s Assembly meeting last month detailing how the current administration can be taken out of power, are within the law, and the methods to which he referred of curtailing a Government’s term of office are legally acceptable.
“You can remove a Government almost immediately after you have elected them, if they have demonstrated that they have betrayed you. The system allows for that,” he told the launch of the University of Independence Square social organisation Saturday night.
“They have five years maximum before going to the electorate. But you could bring down the Government any time before that, under the law, within the Constitution, according to the Westminster system.”
Belle, dean of UWI Social Sciences Faculty, explained that in Barbados’ political system the Prime Minister is the “anchor” of Government, and he must retain support of a majority of parliamentarians. When that prop by fellow MPs is reduced to a minority, the Prime Minister can be removed and replaced by another person, or that embattled leader may opt to call fresh elections.
He said there was a rumoured attempt to remove Prime Minister Erskine Sandiford in the 1990s by taking away his support and vesting it in another MP.
“When they tried that with Mr Sandiford, in 1994, Mr Sandiford . . . became alert to that and decided that the only way you’re going to shift [him] is if you face an election,” Belle said, and added: “And that is the power of the Prime Minister. That is the anchor in the system, because he has the power to say ‘I will call an election’.
“And that is the key to the fact that you can change the Government almost at any time, because if that individual loses the command of the House, his Cabinet falls.”
Belle said that following his People’s Assembly statement, another section of the Press showed a misunderstanding of what he had stated, and this was furthered by a columnist of that publication who criticised him.
The holder of a doctorate in political science, restated his position taken at the People’s Assembly rally.
“There could be an appeal to the conscience of the parliamentarians in Parliament, in relation to the kind of crisis that we are facing right now, and on the basis of that appeal, some of those parliamentarians may decide to vote independently, or to cross the floor. And if that happens, and they decide to vote against the Government, the Government will fall.”