Voters in Trinidad and Tobago may go to the polls again by late November or early December to elect a new member of Parliament for the St. Joseph constituency, which was declared vacant by speaker of the House of Representative Wade Mark recently.
Former High Court judge Herbert Volney, who was voted MP for the constituency under a United National Congress (UNC) banner in the May 24, 2010 General Election had resigned from the party and announced that he was joining Jack Warner’s Independent Liberal Party (ILP).
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar later wrote the speaker of the House asking him to declare the seat vacant since he was no longer representing the UNC party.
Volney indicated that he was going to challenge the speaker’s ruling in the High Court, which the prime minister believes could have taken until after the 2015 general election, leaving his seat vacant in the House.
But Volney later backed down saying that that the was not going to challenge the ruling of the speaker, making way for the prime minister to now call a bye-election within three months.
Volney claimed that he had outfoxed Persad-Bissessar into believing that he was going to take the issue of his expulsion from Parliament to the courts.
His decision caught Persad-Bissessar and her government by surprise when Volney decided not to contest the speaker’s ruling, citing the high cost of litigation and the absence of access to the appellate jurisdiction of the Privy Council or the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ).
This would be the second by-election to be held over the past five months and the fourth election to be held in Trinidad and Tobago this year.
The coalition government has so far lost the last three elections.
In July this year, former National Security Minister Jack Warner resigned his seat on an ILP ticket in the Chaguanas West by-election in Central Trinidad after he resigned his UNC seat in the Parliament and later resigned his post as chairman of the party.