As the country drifts towards the end of the 90-day constitutional deadline for a general election, social activist and attorney-at-law David Comissiong is calling on Governor General Dame Sandra Mason to put an end to the “governmental stasis”.
Comissiong said Dame Sandra was not obligated to wait on Prime Minister Freundel Stuart to set a date for the poll, constitutionally due by early June, arguing that the Constitution allowed for the Governor General to exercise her discretion once the provision for the automatic dissolution of Parliament was triggered.
In written correspondence to Barbados TODAY, Comissiong pointed to the fact that Parliament was dissolved on March 6, and that Section 62 (1) of the Constitution makes it clear that “after every dissolution of Parliament the Governor General shall issue writs for a general election of members of the House of Assembly returnable within ninety days from the dissolution”.
He further explained that Section 32 (1) (b) of the Constitution “also tells us that our Governor General does not have to wait upon or to be advised by the Cabinet or the Prime Minister” in relation to “any function which is expressed in whatever terms to be exercisable by her in her discretion”.
“A plain and literal reading of Section 62 (1) of the Constitution suggests that this duty of our Governor General to set the date for a general election is a duty that is exercisable by her in her own discretion,” Comissiong said, while going on to ask: “What is the Governor General was waiting for.”
The attorney suggested that if Dame Sandra, who served as a judge on the Court of Appeal, were in doubt about the wording of the various sections, she should go to the Supreme Court for clarification.
He therefore called on Barbadians to let their voices be heard on this matter as major institutions were breaking down while country remains in a state of “political limbo”.
The Barbados Labour Party (BLP) recently made a similar call, with George Payne, the party’s chairman, contending Dame Sandra needed to act in order to protect the country’s integrity.
“You are dealing with a man who does not make any decisions,” Payne told a BLP meeting in St Michael South about Stuart.
“The Governor General also has a responsibility, taking into consideration the state of affairs of this country at this particular point in time . . . . The Governor General has the absolute discretion of issuing the writs for election. At this particular point in time [Stuart] could scotch back and say, ‘it is not my fault, it is the Governor General. The Governor General is the person who is supposed to call the election and the Governor General has refused,’” the BLP chairman had said.