-says Govt, supporters cannot make up rules as they go along
Former Alliance For Change (AFC) member has labelled arguments that 34 equals a majority in 65 as “absolute rubbish” in wake of Government’s embrace of this reasoning, with a view to having its defeat at a recent No-confidence vote reversed.
Appearing on a ‘Straight talk Guyana’ broadcast interview on Saturday was Economist and former AFC member, Sase Singh. Singh noted that the math does not add up in the notion Government seems to be clinging to, adding that The Constitution of Guyana is clear on the matter.
Article 106 (6) of the Constitution states: “The Cabinet including the President shall resign if the Government is defeated by the vote of a majority of all the elected members of the National Assembly on a vote of confidence.”
“There are two key words in that statement of the Constitution,” Singh explained. “One is, shall resign. In law, shall means must resign. And the other key words are a majority of all elected members. The National Assembly of Guyana has 65 elected members. The majority is clearly construed as 33.”
Singh pointed out that a total of 33 Members of Parliament voted for the no-confidence motion. Hence, he said, the Government has fallen and must obey the constitution. Asked why a lawyer and seasoned politicians would support an argument that goes against decades of parliamentary practise for votes of division, he explained its genesis.
“It’s all an issue where one leading lawyer – and that viewpoint is definitely a minority viewpoint – came forward with a convoluted conclusion that a majority (of 65) is 34. And his interpretation was very confusing.”
“It basically says that half of 35 is 32 and a half. And for you to round up, you must round up by a whole, and the only number that should be considered a majority is 34. But that is absolute rubbish. We have to go by precedents. We can’t make it up as we go along. We have to be guided by what history has developed.”
Singh pointed out that an absolute majority has always been more than 50 per cent of the voting members, rounded up at the full number. He expressed concern that the Government is attempting to impose its view on the entire nation.
“I see this as a cabal that wants to put the interest of their (32) members in the National Assembly, ahead of the interests of the entire nation. This is a reflection of a party that has a history of constitutional gymnastics… the Government has fallen. There is no if’s, no but’s, no half man about it.”
“We have the history of the 70’s and the 80’s… the PNC (People’s National Congress), the dominant party in the APNU/AFC, has made it clear in their Sophia declaration that the party is more important than the state. And this feels like the same old PNC, where they believe that their interest is more important than the entire Guyanese nation,” Singh said.
On December 21, the no-confidence motion brought by the Parliamentary Opposition –the People’s Progressive Party (PPP/C) – against the Government succeeded when former AFC Member of Parliament Charrandas Persaud broke ranks and made a conscience vote in favour of the motion.
President David Granger has already committed to following the provisions outlined in the constitution, facilitating early elections and engaging in dialogue with the Leader of the Opposition, upon his return from Cuba where he departed for treatment.
Since the passage of the motion on December 21, however, persons aligned with the coalition party have sought to question the motion’s validity even as the vote has already been certified.
The original proponent of the 34-vote argument is Attorney Nigel Hughes, a former AFC Chairman, who is also the husband of Government Minister Cathy Hughes. Since then, Government has held on to this explanation like a lifeline.