Foreign diplomats appraised by Opposition of Govt’s “sloth” in heading to Elections

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…Jagdeo says Guyana heading to a constitutional crisis

General Secretary of the PPP/C Dr Bharrat Jagdeo

Opposition Leader Dr Bharrat Jagdeo on Monday hosted meetings at his Church Street office with foreign diplomats, where they were appraised about the political situation in Guyana following the No-confidence vote and the parliamentary opposition’s concerns.

According to Jagdeo in an interview following the meeting, he raised concerns with the diplomats that Guyana may be heading towards a constitutional crisis with government’s sloth in calling elections between the constitutionally outlined period of 90 days after the motion was carried.

Moreover, Jagdeo outlined that attempts by the government appointed Commissioners of the Guyana Election Commission’s (GECOM’s) to delay early elections is only aggravating the situation.

“It is disastrous because I think, GECOM at the level of the Secretariat, from the documents they have provided to the Commission seem ready to start the process rolling. But at the level of the Commission, the Commissioners representing the government have now taken on a political role. Their rhetoric is similar to that of the government. So the President places house-to-house registration on the agenda…so suddenly Vincent Alexander, Trotman and Corbin representing the government on the Commission, they have been parroting the same language and it seems as though their only task there is to delay the start of preparations for elections. So their actions at GECOM is going to push us closer to a constitutional crisis faster.”

The Opposition Leader explained that he also outlined to the diplomatic community how the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) will act should Guyana reach this position.

Making reference to the carried no confidence motion Jagdeo said “They are behaving as though noting happened and that we are in a normal situation when we are heading to a constitutional crisis…So I pointed out clearly about that rapid pathway to a constitutional crisis and what will take place.”

Indian High Commissioner to Guyana V. Mahalingam, Mexico’s Ambassador to Guyana Ivan Medel and the Inter-American Development Bank country representative Sophie Makonnen, were among the diplomats who attended the meeting.

On December 21, 2018, the no-confidence motion brought by the PPP against the Government succeeded when former Alliance For Change (AFC) Parliamentarian Charrandas Persaud broke ranks and made a conscience vote in favour of the motion.

With the Government’s defeat, the next steps are spelt out in the Constitution of Guyana.

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.”

Meanwhile, 106 (7) goes on to state that “Notwithstanding its defeat, the Government shall remain in Office and shall hold an election within three months, or such longer period as the National Assembly shall by resolution supported by not less than two-thirds of the votes of all the elected members of the National Assembly determine, and shall resign after the President takes the oath of office following the election.”

Since the passage of the motion, however, persons aligned with the coalition party have sought to question the motion’s validity even as the vote has already been certified.

These arguments formed part of the opinions presented to Speaker of the National Assembly, Dr Barton Scotland, in the hopes that he would reverse the ruling. He refused to do so.

Amid calls to resign, Government has insisted it is going nowhere until elections are held. Several court cases were filed, in which an order was sought to, among other things, delay the elections until the court rules on the matter.

That and other related cases came up for hearing last Tuesday, but acting Chief Justice Roxane George committed to a ruling by the end of this month, while noting that such an order would be unnecessary.

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