ST JOHN’S, Antigua – Former Attorney General, Justin Simon QC, said a by-election should be held in Barbuda no later than July 18 in accordance with the Barbuda Local Government Act.
Simon said Arthur Nibbs’ seat as an elected member of the Barbuda Council was automatically vacated when he became the member of parliament for Barbuda on June 12.
The former AG’s statement is supportive of the view recently expressed by attorney Dr David Dorsett, who said Nibbs’ decision not to resign is of no significance due to the automatic end of his tenure.
Simon told OBSERVER media “…(Nibbs) became ex officio, by virtue of section 4(1) (a) of the Barbuda Local Government Act, a member of Council on his election to the House of Representative as the MP for the constituency of Barbuda. Additionally, section 6(2) (g) of the Barbuda Local Government Act provides that a person shall be disqualified from being elected as a member of the Council if he holds or is acting in any public office.”
He elaborated that as the Minister of Agriculture and Lands, Nibbs now holds “public office” as he is paid from the Consolidated Fund and serves the public as a government minister.
The result, he said, is that the council, which is to consist of 11 members, now has 10: the MP for Barbuda, a member of the Senate who is ordinarily resident in Barbuda and otherwise suitably qualified, and eight instead of nine elected members.
“The governor general must now fix a date for the holding of a by-election following upon a vacancy among the elected members of the Council, so that ‘such date shall not be more than five weeks after the vacancy arose’ – section 13(1) (c) of the Barbuda Local Government Act. General Elections results were published on June 13, 2014, and this means that the by-election should be held by July 18, 2014,” the former attorney general stated.
Earlier this week, Nibbs said there would be no need for a by-election because he had no intention of resigning.
He said he had consulted with members of his Antigua & Barbuda Labour Party (ABLP) and it was agreed he would stay until his term as an elected member to the Council expires on March 2015 and his tenure as chairman to the Council expires in January 2015.
Former Barbuda MP of the Barbuda People’s Movement Trevor Walker has criticized Nibbs for clutching all three positions.