Photo Credit: Ahreefa Bacchus/BVI Platinum News
Governor Augustus Jaspert says that there is no need for him to declare a by-election in District Four as there is no vacancy in the House of Assembly (HoA) as far as he is aware.
This position was expressed as a result of recent developments where Mark Vanterpool announced that he has changed his mind about retiring, following a resignation letter to the Clerk of the HoA on March 5, even after he was re-elected as the District Four Representative in the recent General Elections.
Vanterpool, in a statement yesterday, March 14, said that according to the constitution, his letter needed to be addressed to the Speaker of the HoA. As a result, he was informed that his letter was invalid.
However, yesterday, following Vanterpool’s statement, newly-appointed Speaker of the House, Hon. Julian Willock issued a statement accepting Vanterpool’s resignation from the HoA, saying his acceptance now paves the way for the holding of a District Four by-election.
Addressing this issue today, March 15 during a press conference, Governor Jaspert stated that it is his role to declare a by-election should the need for one arise by way of a vacancy in the HoA.
“Now, at the moment, we haven’t formally gotten to a point where I would; there’s no formal identification for me to move forward on a by-election,” he stated.
He continued, “There will only be a by-election, and it’s up to me to issue a writ of a by-election…There will only be a by-election when I am formally notified of a vacancy in the House. The seat has to become vacant first…At the moment, I have not been formally notified of any vacant seat.”
He further disclosed that yesterday, he had a discussion with Vanterpool on the matter, as Vanterpool informed him of his intentions.
He added, “I will be guided by the Constitution on the laws of the Territory and on the legal advice,” pointing to the section of the Constitution which reads,” An elected member of the House of Assembly shall also vacate his or her seat in the House-- (a) if he or she resigns it by writing under his or her hand addressed to the speaker.”
This, he says, dictates that the letter must be penned to the Speaker of the House, adding that he is being further advised on the matter by Attorney General Baba Aziz.