The High Court of Antigua and Barbuda has thrown out a frivolous lawsuit brought by the Free and Fair Election League, challenging the number of Ministers of Government named to the Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party Cabinet.
The suit was brought against Prime Minister Gaston Browne, who is the Chairman of Cabinet and the person who selects the Cabinet, and the Attorney General, the official who answers all lawsuits brought against the Government.
The suit alleges that the Prime Minister exceeded his authority under the constitution by appointing 11 elected members of the House of Representatives to the Cabinet; the plaintiff pleaded that these eleven appointments, the Executive arm of Government enjoys supremacy over the Legislative branch.
The Constitution gives the Prime Minister the discretion to select his Cabinet and places no limitations on the number of Ministers that can be selected, the Court concluded. Ministers of Government must, however, be selected from those appointed to the Senate or elected to the Lower House.
The Court also reminded the Plaintiff that the Parliament of Antigua and Barbuda consists of the Monarch, a Senate of 17 members, a House of Representatives of 17 members, a Speaker and a Deputy Speaker. The Court also chose to emphasize that “Parliament” refers to the two Houses of Parliament collectively, since all these actors are required in order to make laws. The plaintiff seemed to have been making out that only the House of Representatives comprised “the Parliament.” Members of the Senate, the Court also reminded the Plaintiff, may be chosen for Cabinet positions.
“The claimant has not shown that the defendant has violated…the Constitution,” the Court concluded. The frivolous lawsuit was thrown out.
“I have always regarded this lawsuit as an attempt to distract our attention and to waste the time of the Executive,” the Prime Minister remarked. “My Cabinet is among the smallest that has been selected since 1976, or in 40 years, when the number of constituencies was increased from 10 to 17. The decision to bring this matter before the Court is tainted with the same motive that has seen frivolous lawsuits brought against PARADISE FOUND, and being threatened against other projects,” Prime Minister Gaston Browne concluded. The Prime Minister said that he hopes the plaintiff will not be appealing the High Court decision.