UPP awaits GG’s decision on commission of inquiry into bribery scandal

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The leader of the United Progressive Party (UPP) is optimistic that Governor General, Sir Rodney Williams will heed the opposition request to set up of a commission of inquiry into the Odebrecht bribery scandal.
Harold Lovell and other UPP officials met with Sir Rodney and the Deputy Governor General, Sir Clare Roberts to discuss the matter on Friday.
“The meeting went very well; he was very attentive and I believe that he understands exactly what we are saying,” Lovell told OBSERVER media.
According to the UPP political leader, a commission of inquiry ought to be established in light of the damage that has been done to Antigua & Barbuda’s reputation as a result of the negative reports that have come out in relation to this bribery scandal.
Lovell is determined that a public inquiry is the best way to settle the many unanswered questions surrounding Antigua & Barbuda’s involvement.
He said that Sir Rodney told his delegation that he would speak to Attorney General Steadroy “Cutie” Benjamin before he gets back to them with a decision.
“Of course, he pointed out that he will await an opinion from the Attorney General and that he would have to take into account all the factors and circumstances that we raised,” he said.
However, Benjamin has already made his decision, by stating that the Governor General cannot legally set up any commission of inquiry.
According to Benjamin, “All commission of inquiries are initiated by the government”, under the Commission of Inquiry Act, “after which the government would have to make preparations for conduct of the matter”.
“There’s nothing in the law as I know it, that gives the authority for the Governor General as head of state to call a commission of inquiry,” he added.
But, Lovell countered: “I respectfully disagree with that advice and I would wish to see the basis on which the Attorney General has come to that conclusion.
“I am quoting Section 80, Subsection 1 and I would challenge the Attorney General to disagree with my interpretation,” he told OBSERVER media.
Lovell maintained that the Sir Rodney has the power to convene the commission of inquiry.
“I believe we were able to persuade him that he does have that power because we pointed to section 80 of the Constitution and in particular Section 80, Subsection 1, where it is very clear that the Governor General in exercising his function can act in his own discretion where there is a law that permits him to do so,” he said, as he reiterated his optimism.

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