That’s how former Prime Minister Owen Arthur has described the position taken by Opposition Leader Mia Mottley in relation to the appointment of a Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and other high level Government officials.
Addressing the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry here last week, Mottley expressed concern that certain key appointments were being made in the “dying days” of the Freundel Stuart administration, while serving notice that if she were elected prime minister in the upcoming elections she would not be prepared to be bound by any decisions of this nature taken by the current Government.
“I can only say to you that having discussed it with my colleagues and the chairman as recently as Sunday, we cannot seriously consider ourselves bound by any inopportune or improper decision made in the dying days of this administration that will extend its protection to people who ought not to be protected. I say no more,” Mottley said at the time while listing the offices of the Governor General, the DPP and the Central Bank Governor among key posts that were crying out to be filled.
“These are all posts that are either in the Constitution or serious posts that will affect the quality of life and the quality of decision-making in Barbados. Now if people only allow the Opposition to be the only voice on these matters, then the Government will fill them with impunity and you will be stuck with whomsoever they chose,” the Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP) leader said at the time, adding that the consequences of that would not be easy to fix since they would affect the condition of life and the options of an incoming Government in a serious way.
However, Arthur has taken umbrage to Mottley’s position on the grounds that Prime Minister Freundel Stuart has until June next year to call an election and that there is nothing standing in the way of his administration seeking to fill the key vacancies.
“Firstly, there is no law that says that you cannot make the appointments, but there is also no law that says that you should not be bound by appointments once they are properly made,” Arthur said.
However, he said what was most disturbing for him was the implications of Mottley’s statement in relation to the Office of the DPP, which he said was insulated under the Constitution from any form of political interference.
“In relation to the appointment of a Director of Public Prosecutions, neither Ms Mottley nor any prime minister of Barbados has an authority in the matter under the Constitution of Barbados.
“The Constitution is specific that the Director of Public Prosecutions is appointed by the Governor General after consultations on the advice of the Judicial Services Commission
. . . so that the Constitution is drafted in such a manner to give a prime minister of Barbados absolutely no say in the appointment of a Director of Public Prosecutions even though that prime minister, by the same Constitution, could have a say, by way of advice to the Governor General in the appointment of the Auditor General,” Arthur pointed out.
While stressing that the law was so drafted to give the public the confidence in the work of the DPP, he emphasized that the post must be shielded from political influence.
“So for Mia Mottley to now feel that [even] if under the Democratic Labour Party the law is followed as to how a DPP is appointed, that she can now come and say, ‘I’m not bound by it’, would be to plunge Barbados into a constitutional crisis affecting citizens’ ability to feel free from political interference, such that in my judgment, would disqualify her fundamentally from holding the office of prime minister in this country,” Arthur said.
“She has to feel that in every matter, where it is explicit, respect and uphold the Constitution, he stressed, adding that “this is not an ordinary departure, this is a fundamental matter and may I say it does not stand alone”.
The former BLP leader recalled that in the lead up to the last election Mottley had publicly laid claim to having the right to say who the BLP candidate in St James North should be even though, he said, the leader has no such right under the party’s constitution.
Arthur has therefore called on the Opposition BLP “out of respect for the Constitution to let the public know that under no circumstances would a BLP prime minister offend the Constitution with malice afore thought in doing what the Constitution says he or she can’t do”.
Contending that the matter was too fundamental a matter to be ignored, he accused Mottley of ascribing to herself powers that are unconstitutional, adding that “if that doesn’t disqualify someone from becoming prime minister, then I don’t know what will”.
During her address to the Chamber Mottley had also served notice that it was the last time she would be addressing the business community as Leader of the Opposition.
However, in response, Arthur suggested to Mottley that in her feverish pant to become Prime Minister, “she would do well remembering that one of the most outstanding and extraordinary politicians in the history of Barbados, a man called Richie Haynes, I suspect didn’t find favour with the public because he appeared as if he wanted to be prime minister of this country too bad.
“Let the matter come to you,” he advised the St Michael North East Member of Parliament, who previously served as his Deputy Prime Minister in his Cabinet.
“I believe that if the country was allowed, in my view the country would make the Labour Party the Government and Ms Mottley the prime minister, but I would think that it is best if it is addressed in a graceful way and it is not something that people seem as though they want too badly,” he said.