The Government of Antigua and Barbuda has won it bid against the Free and Fair Election League, who brought a lawsuit against Prime Minister Gaston Browne for apparently exceeding his authority in the House of Representatives.
The suit alleges that the Prime Minister exceeded his authority under the constitution by appointing 11 elected members of the House of Representatives to the Cabinet.
The High Court however ruled that the Constitution gives the Prime Minister the discretion to select his Cabinet and places no limitations on the number of Ministers that can be selected once the Ministers of Government are selected from those appointed to the Senate or elected to the Lower House.
The Free and Fair Elections League also pleaded that these eleven appointments, the Executive arm of Government enjoys supremacy over the Legislative branch.
In addressing the claim, the Court reminded the Plaintiff that the Parliament of Antigua and Barbuda consists of the Monarch, a Senate of 17 members, a House of Representatives of 17 members, a Speaker and a Deputy Speaker, emphasizing that “Parliament” refers to the two Houses of Parliament collectively, since all these actors are required in order to make laws.
“The claimant has not shown that the defendant has violated…the Constitution,” the Court concluded.
In response to the case being thrown out, PM Browne described the lawsuit as an attempt to distract his administration’s attention and to waste the time of the Executive.”
The Prime Minister noted that his Cabinet is among the smallest that has been selected since 1976, or in 40 years, adding that the decision to bring this matter before the Court is tainted with the same motive that has seen frivolous lawsuits brought against PARADISE FOUND, and being threatened against other projects.”
Whether the Free and Fair Elections League will be appealing the High Court’s decision is still unknown, however the Prime Minister says he hopes that this will be the end of the matter.