KINGSTON, Jamaica – People’s National Party (PNP) senators staged a partial walkout of the Senate on Friday over remarks allegedly made by Government senator Aubyn Hill, accusing them of supporting criminals.
This came during the debate on the motion to extend the states of emergency (SOEs) that were declared for seven parishes on November 15 by Prime Minister Andrew Holness for an initial two weeks. While the government used its super majority in the House of Representatives on Tuesday to extend the emergency measure until January 14, it needs the vote of one Opposition senator for the required two-thirds majority in both Houses of Parliament for the motion to stand.
Just as the Leader of Opposition Business in the Senate, Peter Bunting concluded his contribution to the debate and took his seat, his fellow Opposition senator, Lambert Brown, rose to his feet and accused Hill of stating that PNP senators were in support of criminals. This, as Bunting had hinted that he would not be supporting the extension.
Brown declared that he would not remain in the chamber unless Hill withdrew what he argued were not sotto voce remarks but comments that were clearly heard. Opposition senator, Donna Scott-Motley urged Hill to withdraw the statement but he denied making it.
Opposition Senator Sophia Fraser Binns also took issue with Hill’s statement but he kept up his denial, claiming he made sotto voce remarks and was not addressing anyone on the Opposition benches.
He ultimately withdrew the statement in the interest of peace and the fact that a very important matter was being debated but insisted he did not say what he was accused of saying.
However, Hill’s belated withdrawal came after at least two Opposition senators – Brown and Scott-Mottley had already left the chamber.