By Kurt Campbell
[www.inewsguyana.com] – Clerk of the National Assembly, Sherlock Isaacs has turned down House Speaker Raphael Trotman’s request for him to convene a sitting of the House on November 06.
The Clerk conveyed his refusal in a letter to the Speaker and told iNews that his refusal was based his earlier argument that only the government can reconvene the House under the current circumstances.
He said he sought advice from several of his CARICOM colleagues, who all told him that it was the government’s duty to name a date for a sitting under these specific circumstances where the parliamentary recess has just ended and the House was adjourned to no specific date.
The Speaker has since issued a public statement registering his disagreement with the Clerk’s interpretation.
“Not for the first time in the forty-eight year history of the National Assembly, the Speaker and the Clerk are at odds over the power of the Speaker to convene the sittings of the National Assembly,” Trotman said in a statement.
Trotman said the Clerk maintains that he is of the view that the he lacks the authority to convene sittings of National Assembly under Standing Order 8 (1) and (2).
“This is a most unfortunate position arrived at and obviously arises out of a very narrow interpretation of the Standing Orders, and of the prevailing circumstances whereby the National Assembly entered into recess and has emerged from that recess, and a majority of Members desire to meet.”
According to the Speaker, the National Assembly must resume sittings and cannot be bound by the whims of the Executive branch to have to await its consent before meeting.
“Such an interpretation flies in the face of the doctrine of separation of powers, and the constitutional right of the elected representatives to meet to perform their functions,” he added.
He explained that his role along with the Clerk’s is regulated by the Constitution and the Standing Orders.
“As constitutional officers, both are expected to work symbiotically for the National Assembly to be able to properly discharge its constitutional roles and functions. It is the duty of the Clerk to convene the sitting by making all arrangements including, summoning and ensuring the attendance of Members, and the preparation and circulation of the Order Paper,” Trotman argues.
He believes the decision of the Clerk not to convene the sitting has the effect of crippling the ability of the Members of Parliament to meet which in itself brings the Constitution into derision and disregard.
“As a majority of Members have indicated their desire for the National Assembly to meet, the nation is confronted with a clear and unvarnished constitutional crisis,” the Speaker concluded.