EYEWITNESS: Degutting…


…Parliamentary Democracy

Parliamentary democracies function as “democracies” only if those in power observe the rules and conventions of the game. And it IS game, isn’t it? Think about the game of cricket we all love so much. Suppose the fella who’s batting refuses to come off when his stumps are sent flying – and he’s backed by the umpire who insists the game must continue? What then?

Take this fella Nagamootoo, who was made Prime Minister when the APNU/AFC coalition took office. Because President is ill and had to fly off to Cuba for treatment, in accordance with Art 96 (1) of the Constitution, Nagamootoo was designated to fill in as President:

“Whenever the President is absent from Guyana or considers it desirable to do so for reason of illness or any other cause he may, by direction in writing, authorise any member of his cabinet being an elected member of the National Assembly, to perform such of the functions of the office of the President as he may specify…”

So far, so good, right? Nagamootoo was even sworn in by the protocol officer to act as President. Well, the Opposition Leader then made the point that since Nagamootoo’s now performing the functions of the President, he can’t be the “President’s representative in the National Assembly”. And Jagdeo didn’t just make this up like David Patterson did when he rattled off PPP projects he claimed weren’t supported by Feasibility Studies. Jagdeo referred to the Constitutional Article demanding this action.

Article 178 (4) says bluntly, “During a period when a Minister is performing the functions of the office of President under Art 96 (1)…his seat in the National Assembly shall be regarded as vacant AND MAY BE TEMPORARILY FILLED IN ACCORDANCE WITH ANY PROVISION MADE UNDER Art 160 (3).”

Can’t get clearer than that, can you? Well, not according to Nagamootoo!! The fella wants to keep on batting even though his stumps have been shattered by Jagdeo’s bouncer!! Now Nagamootoo could’ve avoided this crisis today in the National Assembly by extracting someone from the APNU/AFC list to act as Prime Minister during the debate – including today when Jagdeo says he will object to his presence to the Speaker.

But no…Nagamootoo just had to get the dubious pleasure of speaking after Jagdeo in closing the debate!! Now one may sympathise with him because, with his emasculation as Prime Minister, this is his annual moment of “glory” – such as it is!! By announcing his objection on Friday, Jagdeo’s ensured a replacement for Nagamootoo can’t be extracted in time for today’s sitting!!

Sadly, however, the breakdown in parliamentary democracy will continue as the Speaker will allow Nagamootoo to keep on batting.

…his own Code of Conduct

Raphael Trotman was so anxious to “brown nose” PNC Chair Volda Lawrence, he was willing to not only have her violate the Constitution – freedom of association for non-PNC Guyanese – but also the Code of Conduct for Government Ministers and officials HE HIMSELF DRAFTED!! In case, Dear Reader, you were vacationing on Mars to hear the Martian winds, Ms Lawrence had declared: when it came to jobs, “The only friends I got is PNC so the only people I gon give wuk to is PNC and right now I looking for a doctor who can talk Spanish or Portuguese and ah want one that is PNC!”

Now Art 2 of Trotman’s Code explicitly forbids the discriminatory action Lawrence was advocating: “No person in Public Life shall in the course of the performance of his or her official functions discriminate against any person with respect to terms, conditions and privileges of such person’s…political opinion.” Trotman is sure desperate!!
Donkey got big ears, but can’t hear his own story!!

…fiscal responsibility

After arguing for increased funding for agencies and Ministries that had egregiously violated all the rules on their spending according to the Auditor General’s Report, who’s surprised the PNC-led Government is now bailing out City Hall.
Without insisting on any conditions!!



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