Knight abstains, but Senate votes to extend St James SOE

Saturday, October 20, 2018

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OPPOSITION Senator KD Knight yesterday broke ranks with his colleagues and abstained from voting on the resolution seeking to extend the state of emergency (SOE) in St James in the Senate.

Knight said that he would not vote because he had heard no indication from the Government that all the points raised by the Opposition would be considered.

“I am abstaining,” he said.

The announcement came as little surprise at the end, as it was obvious from his presentation during the lengthy debate on the resolution that he would not have voted in favour.

Leader of Government Business, Senator Kamina Johnson Smith said that every member of the Senate was entitled to apply their vote as they felt.

“I will only say that the woman in my mirror is crystal clear that we must protect those little girls on the edge of puberty from being summoned by any 'don', or any gang. We must protect the youngster who wants to go down to HEART [Trust/NTA] to train in welding or hospitality or construction, or whatever it is that he feels is going to give him a better life and provide the next stepping stone for his family,” she added.

Opposition Senator Lambert Brown said that he wanted time to contemplate whether he, too, should abstain or not. However, he eventually supported the extension, noting that he did so “reluctantly”.

Knight was the only abstention and the first since the cooperation between the Government and the Opposition to extend the SOEs as well as the zones of special operations came into effect to fight crime and violence in the country.

Seventeen of 21 senators voted in favour and three were absent, but the 17 votes ensured the two-thirds majority needed to pass the Emergency Powers (Continuance) (No 4) Resolution, 2018, under which the states of emergency operate.

— Balford Henry

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