Opposition Leader, Tobias Clement has charged that the Office built for the Leader of the Opposition in Parliament has been taken over by Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell.
In a startling revelation to THE NEW TODAY, Clement said that the persons who built the Parliament informed him that the plans and drawings did provide for an Office of the Leader of the Opposition and his Secretary.
However, he said that with the island having no official Leader of the Opposition, Prime Minister Mitchell decided to take the office for his own use.
According to Clement, when he took up the post of Leader of the Opposition the persons running the Parliament gave him an office and forced his Secretary to sit outside in an open area of the Parliament Building.
The St George North-east Member of Parliament said that this is unacceptable and he would not sit in the office now given to him while his Secretary is displaced.
He said: “In my quest to find better seating accommodation and arrangement and privacy for my Secretary, people who were involved in the building indicated to me that if I look at the plans and the drawing of the Parliament, there is an office in the Parliament that is adjacent to the Secretary’s office, you can enter through the Secretary’s office and go into the Leader of the Opposition’s office. There is such an office in the Parliament Building but the office was taken by the Prime Minister. They say he saw it and he liked it.
“So the Prime Minister now has the Opposition’s office in Parliament. It is embarrassing for the Prime Minister to occupy the Opposition’s office along with the Secretary’s office in Parliament and he would not give it up. They are making excuses and saying because there wasn’t an opposition he took it. If there is an opposition (now) give it up,” he remarked.
Clement went on: “The time is going to come when he will get the Opposition office but he will not occupy it because he will be ashamed to do so.”
The St. George North-east MP has approached Public Utilities Minister Gregory Bowen for an answer to the Office set aside in Parliament for the Leader of the Opposition.
He submitted the following question to Minister Bowen – Can the Minister for Infrastructure Development, and Member for St. George South-east under whose Ministry the Houses of Parliament was constructed, provide a copy of the floor plan to show the designation of the office space provided and purpose?
Clement has maintained that he is not pushing for the return of the office for his own use but for future office holders.
The Office of the Leader of the Opposition became a matter of public concern just over a month ago when Clement’s Secretary lost $700.00 that was reportedly stolen from her handbag in the Parliament Building by workers hired by a private cleaning company.
The Secretary is said to have left her bag in the office set aside for the Leader of the Opposition and moved out of it for a few minutes in order to allow the cleaners inside of it to do their work.
Police apprehended the suspects who allegedly confessed and the owner of the cleaning company paid back the money.
When contacted a leading constitutional expert in the region said that there should not be any office in a country’s Parliament for the Prime Minister.
He said the Office of Prime Minister is an office in the Executive branch of the government of Grenada and as such it is not a Parliamentary office.
“The office of Leader of Opposition is a Parliamentary office as such as the Office of the Speaker is a Parliamentary office. So the Prime Minister has no legal or morale basis for occupying any office in the Parliament.
“The Prime Minister is a squatter in the office of the Leader of the Opposition – he is squatting. It is unheard of that a Prime Minister occupies the office of Leader of the Opposition far less any office in Parliament.
According to the legal expert, Prime Minister Mitchell has no claim to any office in Parliament even if there is no opposition in Parliament with the ruling New National Party (NNP) winning all 15 seats in the last general election in 2018.
He said this “is a clear example” that the current Grenadian leader has no respect for institutions of the state and separation of powers.
“Anyone who subscribes to democracy will know this – this is the work of a dictator,” he added.
Prime Minister Mitchell who has won three elections with clean sweeps against his political opponents in the past 21 years has been coming under increasing attacks in Grenada for demonstrating dictatorial tendencies.
Press Secretary Philomena Robertson was contacted by THE NEW TODAY to seek a comment from Prime Minister Mitchell on the accusation made by the Leader of the Opposition on the office issue but she did not respond.