MP forced to quit for a good cause

An opposition member of parliament has been forced to sign a letter of resignation from his sick bed at a hospital to allow his party to replace him to preserve a crucial one-seat house majority to prune alleged government padding in this year’s annual budget

Richard Allen, a legislator from the northwestern districts near Venezuela agreed to temporarily resign as a legislator for A Partnership For National Unity (APNU) after his absence from ongoing debates about the 2013 budget had eroded the combined opposition’s one-seat majority in the 65-member House now going over financial allocations for this year.

The APNU and the Alliance for Change (AFC) have vowed to severely prune the budget, contending that it is padded with millions of dollars that will be creamed off by officials but the parties were hamstrung by Allen’s absence after he had collapsed in the house last week and remains hospitalized with a heart ailment and elevated blood pressure.

House Speaker Raphael Trotman told reporters Wednesday that the APNU had forwarded Allen’s letter of resignation to him and that a replacement will be sworn in when actual line- item examination of budget estimates begins next Monday.

The opposition had placed severe cuts on several state agencies last year, including the office of President Donald Ramotar and the state’s radio and television stations that the opposition said had ignored them completely and other departments, saying some of the money was channeled back to the ruling party and fills the pockets of high officials.

The move has not gone without criticism from the governing PPP. It called the resignation “an unsympathetic act” noting that “MP Allen is the latest victim of an opposition obsessed with power.”

Both government and the opposition enforce strict rules when it comes to attendance at Parliament, as the absence of any one or two legislators could lead to a tied vote or even government winning, despite its minority status.

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