Clement confirms James declined offer to continue as a senator

by Linda Straker

  • Kerryne James declined post by text message on Wednesday night
  • Opportunity missed for NDC to be heard in parliament

Opposition Leader, Tobias Clement, has confirmed one of the persons recommended to represent him in the Upper House of Parliament has declined the offer days after her name was submitted to the Office of the Governor General.

“She had agreed, but sends me a text message on Wednesday night saying she now declines the offer,” Clement said when asked to confirm that Kerryne James, who was appointed as a senator by Governor General Dame Cecile La Grenade following the 2018 General Election, will no longer be one of the 3 representing him in the senate.

James was one of 2 senators recommended by the National Democratic Congress (NDC) to be appointed as senators in the Upper House of Parliament following the 2018 General Election in which there was no opposition elected. The constitution provides for the Governor General to appoint 3 persons in the absence of an elected leader of the opposition.

In December 2019, Clement who won the St George’s North East constituency as a candidate for the ruling New National Party resigned as a member. He was a government backbencher in the parliament. In March 2020 he wrote the Head of State seeking to fill the vacant post of Leader of the Opposition.

His appointment automatically gave him the right to appoint 3 senators to the Upper House which made the previous appointees of Glynis Roberts, Ron Redhead and James null and void.

Clement said that he interviewed both James and Redhead who are executive members of the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) but decided to reappoint James. “But I can tell she was under pressure since the announcement. I am convinced that because the NDC did not have their way, she was pressured and so she declined,” he said.

“I don’t have a political party and so this was my way of giving the NDC a voice in parliament but now I realise they never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity. It’s an opportunity missed to be heard in the parliament,” said Clement who disclosed that he has a replacement for James.

“I was very conscious of the reality and what could happen so I had a plan B in the event she declined or resigned after receiving the instrument of appointment, and so I will write to the Governor General informing her about the change in one of the names of the persons I recommended,” he said.

Clement was confident that in the not too distant future, all his 3 recommended senators will be appointed and be ready for the next sitting of the senate.

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