Power Struggle? Senator George Vincent is not convinced

In a break with the party line, National Democratic Congress, NDC, Senator George Vincent, Minister of the all important Ministry of Tourism, does not agree with the position taken by the political leader and hierarchy of his party, the ruling NDC government, that there was an internal power struggle.

At center of vicious attacks coming particularly from Senator Glen Noel, the government’s Minister of Information, is the oft “party maligned” so-called “rebel leader” – the people’s duly elected representative from the Town of St. George and Member of Her Majesty’s Parliament, the Hon. Peter David.

Dr. Vincent’s unblemished track record of honesty, and forthrightly approach in important positions and matters of trust speak volumes of his integrity.

The writer believes that Dr. Vincent’s opinion has been objectively driven by training, experience, patience and an innate ability to be analytical – not succumbing to pressure.

The Tourism Minister is an insider and privy to sensitive information and decisions made in Cabinet and not know to speak – “out of turn”- he speaks out of conviction.

To many associates and close friends who have known him for years, it is no surprise that he candidly responded to questions alleging that MP Peter David was the nucleus of a controversy power struggle and destabilising force within the NDC.

Dr. Vincent was interviewed by TV6’s Byron Campbell’s – You Decide/Political Watch – on Wednesday October 24th, 2012.

Prime Minister Tillman Thomas, political leader of the ruling NDC government, has consistently targeted David as leading a conspiracy to unseat him as political leader, a contention that was clearly debunked by the senior Minister of Tourism, Senator George Vincent, who opined on Campbell’s show that there was “no power struggle.

He considered the disruption at NDC head table after the party won eleven of the fifteen seats in the Lower House of Parliament – personality differences.

Furthermore, he had worked for MP David, when David was Minister of Tourism, and found him to be a good person, but lacking in focus.

MP David along with nine other colleagues were expelled from the party at the NDC held convention at the St. Andrew’s Anglican Secondary School in Telescope, St. Andrew’s, on October 30, 2012.

The controversial expulsion, a matter now pending in court, at the Grenadian Capital City, St. George’s, was widely covered by regional and international media.

Prominent Travel Executive, Siddiqui Sylvester, one of the ten expelled NDC members, has appeared on locally televised media with Attorney Cajeton Hood, retained in a class action suit.

The expulsion is of concern to the Grenadian legal fraternity many of whom are troubled by the “Doctrine of Necessity” as the legal foundation the NDC leadership invoked to expel trouble makers: (1) disregarding natural law, (2) contravening the Party Constitution and (3) violating the laws and constitution of the State of Grenada by which the NDC as a political party operating within the legal jurisdiction of Grenada is legally bound.

Tunde Oyesina is a Lawyer and Senior Reporter at the Nigerian Times giving a legal explanation of the doctrine of necessity and recalling its origin and countries where it had been applied to solve emergency problems, in brief sites the following:

 

(1) The Doctrine of Necessity is an extra-legal action by STATE ACTORS, designed to restore order, under strict and limited circumstances.

 




(2) The principle on which the doctrine is based comes from medieval jurist, Henry de Bracton, and advanced more recently by legal authorities, includig William Blackstone.

 

In contemporary law, the doctrine was first used in a controversial 1954 judgment in which Pakistani Chief Justice Muhammad Munir validated the extra-constitutional use of emergency powers by Governor General, Ghulam Mohammad.

The second use of the Doctrine of Necessity came in a 1985 judgment; the Chief Justice of the High Court of Grenada invoked the doctrine of necessity to validate the legal existence of a court.

Nigeria, 2010, the third use of the doctrine: Nigerian Parliament creates an Acting President.

A related (although non-judicial) use of the doctrine took place on February 9, 2010, by a resolution passed in the Nigerian National Assembly making Vice President Goodluck Jonathan, the Acting President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces.

Both Chambers of the Assembly passed the resolution after President Umaru Yar’Adua, absent for 78 days receiving medical treatment in Saudi Arabia, refused to formally empower the Vice-president to exercise full powers as acting president – provided for in Section 145 of the country’s constitution.

With no provision in the Nigerian constitution empowering the National Assembly to pass such resolution, Senate President, David Mark, asserted guidance by the Doctrine of Necessity in arriving at its decision.

The doctrine of necessity, though politically crucial in some situations, must not be seen as the best solutions to all problems; politicians use it as a convenient way to abandon the constitution – violating the rule of law and human rights.

It should be noted from the above that the Doctrine of Necessity is invoked by governments to protect their people, not by a political party to protect itself.

In English law, the defense of necessity recognises that there may be situations of such overwhelming urgency that a person must be allowed to respond by breaking the law. There are very few situations where such a defense could even be applicable. The defining feature is that of genuine risk of immediate harm or danger.

In order to invoke the Doctrine of Necessity: (1) Invoking party must not have contributed to the state of necessity; (2) Actions taken were the only way to safeguard an essential interest from grave and impending danger.

Furthermore: (a) the harm sought to be avoided outweighs the danger of the prohibited conduct (b) there was no reasonable alternative; (c) the prohibited conduct ceased as soon as the danger passed; and (d) of particular import, the party did not itself create the danger it sought to avoid.

Oyesina recalls that the doctrine has been “shoddily used and flagrantly abused in Pakistan” – every government has used it as a “political weapon to either intimidate their opponents or repress the rule of law using extra constitutional means.”

He concludes that the Pakistani experience should not be considered a good model and legitimate precedent; however the doctrine of necessity is noble when properly used and valuable when rarely applied.

The writer, to a reasonable degree of journalistic certainty, thinks that the goodly Senior Minister of Tourism, Dr. George Vincent, is rational and reasonable having an appreciation for international constitutional issues and how they impact his ministry. He chooses his words carefully and not prone to hurried, inappropriate or rash decisions.

Kit Stonewalling

 

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