Trinidad and Tobago Opposition Leader Dr. Keith Rowley was suspended from Parliament for the rest of its sittings on Wednesday night.
The suspension comes some six weeks before Parliament will be dissolved on June 17 to make way for the next General Election.
House Speaker Wade Mark announced the suspension after a vote was taken with 24 government saying “yes”, while the lone opposition MP Jack Warner voted against the motion.
The opposition members staged a second walkout of the House of Representatives when the debate on a no-confidence motion started.
It was a double whammy as hours before, Dr. Rowley, was sent to the Privileges Committee over a motion brought by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar against the PNM political leader for his reference to a document which he alleged to be a legal opinion, authored by Sir Henry Forde, Barbadian QC, which the prime minister claimed was fraudulent.
The speaker noted the prime minister said Dr. Rowley, “was reckless in his responsibility to provide accurate information, that he knew or ought to have known that the statement he was reading was false, inaccurate and damaging.”
Mark referred the matter to the Privileges Committee “for a full investigation and report.”
Housing Minister Dr. Roodlal Moonilal, leader of government business had moved a motion of censure against Rowley, which stated he produced false information to the House when he brought some 31 e-mails to Parliament two years ago.
The e-mails contained a series of serious unsubstantiated allegations of criminal misconduct in public office on the part of the prime minister, former Attorney General Anand Ramlogan and several cabinet ministers.
The suspension means that the opposition leader would be prohibited from attending and participating in sittings and also the constituents of Diego Martin West (a few miles off the City of Port of Spain) will no longer have a representative and therefore a voice in Parliament.
The opposition walked out the Parliament accusing the government of an abuse of parliamentary privilege in the motion to suspend Dr. Rowley.
Opposition MP Colm Imbert said; “I dismiss this entire motion as perverse, as politically motivated and a mockery of justice. Mr. Speaker, it is a travesty, it is an abuse, it is a pervasion, Mr. Speaker…. And we will not stay in this Parliament to participate in that!”