United Workers Party (UWP) Senator Daniel Lugay has been suspended from the Parliament of Dominica with immediate effect following a motion tabled by Legal Affairs Minister Ian Douglas and seconded by Agriculture Minister, Matthew Walters.
Deliberations on the 2014/2015 budget were temporarily suspended on Thursday afternoon to debate the motion which called for Senator Lugay to be “forthwith suspended from the service of this honourable House until the final disposal of the criminal charge which he currently faces”.
Senator Lugay was arrested and charged with inciting murder and violence following statements made at a UWP meeting in Soufriere on July 3rd.
“If I wasn’t a believer I would take out some people in Dominica” he said, “but because I am a believer I wouldn’t do it [but] it have some people that deserve to die in Dominica”.
In his presentation, Douglas condemned the statements as “unbecoming of a member of the House, untenable” and one that has “brought this Honorable House into grave disrepute”. He insisted that Senator Lugay must be “censured for his utterances” since the people of Dominica would not forgive members of parliament if they “allowed this behavior to go unchecked.
After contributions from a handful of ministers, including Prime Minister Skerrit and Attorney General Levi Peters, House speaker Alix Boyd Knights put the matter to a vote. The Parliament voted unanimously to suspend Lugay.
Opposition MPs did not participate in the debate or vote as they had earlier walked out of the Parliament in protest of the motion and after a failed attempt to have it amended.
Their exit however did not stall the proceedings.
Hon. Gloria Shillingford, Minister of Social Services, Community Development and Gender Affairs, told the House that she had been terrified by the statement and feared for her life.
“Look at where he seats. I was scared to come to the House this morning. He seats directly opposite me” she said.
Last week PM Skerrit called on Lugay to resign from Parliament following his arrest and charge. The senator however told the media that he intended to attend Parliament when it convened on Wednesday, prompting widespread speculation that the Prime Minister would use his 18-3 majority in the Parliament to force Lugay’s removal.
“It would be a fundamental historic error on the part of this Parliament if we did not take such an action to ensure that the integrity of the Parliament and the state should be maintained”, Skerrit said in support of the motion for Lugay’s immediate suspension.
Meanwhile, Lugay said he expected the decision given the government’s majority in Parliament. He however remains undaunted, confident that the people of Roseau North will vindicated him in the upcoming general elections.