Possible suspension without apology for Moonilal

Apol­o­gy or sus­pen­sion?

UNC MP Roodal had a host of con­sul­ta­tions go­ing on yes­ter­day on whether he should apol­o­gise at to­day's Par­lia­ment sit­ting and how his con­stituen­cy might fare if he does not apol­o­gise and is sus­pend­ed from Par­lia­ment.

 

Mooni­lal added on Thur­day evening, "There are a num­ber of im­pli­ca­tions ei­ther way - if I apol­o­gise or not - there­fore I have to con­sult peo­ple es­pe­cial­ly my con­stituents who sup­port­ed me in my re­cent court case on the Priv­i­leges Com­mit­tee mat­ter."

His con­stituents were the lat­est group he's been con­sult­ing. This, af­ter Gov­ern­ment votes in Par­lia­ment on Wednes­day, ap­proved a Priv­i­leges Com­mit­tee re­port which called for Mooni­lal to apol­o­gise for al­leged "threat­en­ing re­marks" he made to PNM MP Fitzger­ald Hinds on Oc­to­ber 10, 2018. It's al­leged Mooni­lal in Bud­get cross-talk told Hinds "That's why Snake have lead for you."

The Priv­i­leges Com­mit­tee felt Mooni­lal com­mit­ted con­tempt of Par­lia­ment and ut­tered "threat­en­ing" words. The Op­po­si­tion UNC vot­ed against the re­port which called for him to apol­o­gise to Hinds and the Par­lia­ment via per­son­al ex­pla­na­tion, at the next sit­ting.

Sources said no al­ter­na­tive sanc­tion was pre­sent­ed in the re­port in the event Mooni­lal does not apol­o­gise. But if he does not, they added he could ei­ther be sus­pend­ed or he could be ig­nored when he at­tempts to make a fu­ture con­tri­bu­tion in Par­lia­ment.

Mooni­lal on Wednes­day said while he had no dif­fi­cul­ty apol­o­gis­ing to any­one - and may well do so - he would have to con­sult his le­gal team as there could be le­gal ram­i­fi­ca­tions from an apol­o­gy be­cause he still had the court case on the Priv­i­leges Com­mit­tee.

Mooni­lal had sought le­gal ac­tion con­tend­ing the Priv­i­leges Com­mit­tee was im­prop­er­ly con­sti­tut­ed and any re­port would have been flawed and could not have been de­bat­ed by Par­lia­ment.

The court on Wednes­day al­lowed de­bate.

The court meets on Ju­ly 8 on the com­po­si­tion of the Priv­i­leges team.

Con­se­quent­ly, Mooni­lal says his de­ci­sion on whether to apol­o­gise, is a se­ri­ous one. But he hint­ed, "I'm pre­pared to sac­ri­fice my po­lit­i­cal life to de­fend the Con­sti­tu­tion which I took an oath to up­hold."

"So I have to be guid­ed by my con­stituen­cy mem­bers since if we take a de­ci­sion that leads to sus­pen­sion, the area will be with­out rep­re­sen­ta­tion. I'm al­so meet­ing my le­gal team, dis­cussing the is­sue with my po­lit­i­cal leader, a team of el­ders and fi­nal­ly my con­stituen­cy ex­ec­u­tive."

He re­peat­ed that if he ac­cept­ed the re­port, that would in­di­cate he was val­i­dat­ing it and he might as well with­draw his court mat­ter. He said he might have to find a way to apol­o­gise in the con­text of not ac­cept­ing the re­port as this may im­pair his case.

PNM of­fi­cials said they did not see that an apol­o­gy could af­fect Mooni­lal's case since, un­der the Con­sti­tu­tion, the court has no bear­ing on Par­lia­ment pro­ce­dures since Par­lia­ment alone is in charge of its mat­ters.

Reporter: Gail Alexander

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