Greenidge rubbishes Nadir’s views No Confidence Vote

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APNU's Shadow Finance Minister, Carl Greenidge.
APNU’s Shadow Finance Minister, Carl Greenidge.

[www.inewsguyana.com] – Shadow Finance Minister and Parliamentarian of A Partnership for National Unity (APNU), Carl Greeindge says that the views expressed by People’s Progressive Party Parliamentarian, Manzoor Nadir on the No Confidence vote is erroneous and “possibly pernicious” [destructive].

During the radio program ‘Hard Talk’ aired on 90.1FM on Sunday, August 24 Nadir said that a clause in Guyana’s constitution states that ALL elected Members of Parliament must be present in the National Assembly when the No Confidence Motion is put to a vote.

Nadir explained that if a Parliamentarian from either side of the House is absent, then the motion cannot be voted on. His revelation was met with much surprise by Head of Blue Caps, Clinton Urling, who was also a member on the ‘Hard Talk’ panel.

However, Greenidge in a statement today rubbished Nadir’s views. Belong is his full statement:

Having heard Mr Nandllall, Mr Ramotar and Dr Luncheon all hint of the existence of mysteriously requirements or procedures pertaining to a No-Confidence Motion that have yet to be appreciated by the public, I have been waiting to see what the PPP would come up with.

If Nadir’s comments are the full extent of the mystery to which they were alluding, then as the fellows say in the street, “they have to come again.” Simply put Mr Nadir’s views are erroneous and possibly pernicious.

The revised Constitution has three sets of references to voting in the Assembly. First, determination of the outcome of a ballot shall by a majority. Majorities mentioned are either simple or 2/3 of all the members. There is incidentally no mention of a third category invented by the PPP, namely technical majority.

PPP Parliamentarian, Manzoor Nadir.
PPP Parliamentarian, Manzoor Nadir.

A 2/3s majority is required in two circumstances if a vote is to be carried; a confidence motion and the declaration of a state of emergency or war.

In the revised Constitution all the references to votes in the Assembly are worded in the same way except for the nature of the majority. It speaks of: “votes of all the elected members of the National Assembly …”

With regard to no-confidence, actually ‘confidence, motions’, Art 106 (6 &7) states:

“(6) 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.

(7) 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.”

In like manner Art 150(1c dealing with Provisions for time of war or emergency states that:

“…… a resolution of the National Assembly, in favour of which there were, cast the votes of not fewer than two-thirds of all the elected members, declaring that democratic institutions in Guyana are threatened by subversion.”

Two thirds of 65 is 43. Absence from the Assembly makes no difference to that requirement. But is that what is meant by the all members?

These references to ALL THE ELECTED MEMBERS need to be and have up to now been interpreted in the context of the specific article of the Constitution which deals with voting in the Assembly.

Art 168, the heading of which is VOTING, Section1 of which states that:

“Save as otherwise provided by this Constitution, all questions proposed for decision in the National Assembly shall be determined by a majority of the votes of the members present and voting.”

In law perhaps more than any other discipline, it is imperative to read the entire reference document before drawing a conclusion about meaning. The same ‘mistake’ has been made by the Minister of Finance and AG in interpreting Art 218 of the Constitution.

Is it conceivable that drafting would have been so poor that the temporary illness or death of one MP could frustrate the Assembly’s declaration of a state of emergency?

Since the wording of the phrases on voting are all the same, it is for Mr Nadir to identify a single occasion when the interpretation of “all the elected members” has ever been determined with reference to those absent.  

The report went on to quote one of the panelists, Mr Urling, as lamenting this apparent complication.

“This is a revelation and I think that’s why when we hear about these issues, we should do our research. It comes down to interpretation and it comes down to the judiciary.”

Yes, Mr Urling we should do our research before accepting gratuitous, and obviously self-serving interpretations of the law, proffered by Mr Nadir and his colleagues. It is a very simple matter and has been tested many times. An understanding of Article 168 requires no resort to the Judiciary. It never has.

This just goes to confirm my contention that contrary to what the PPP would have us believe, the matter of voting on a no-confidence motion is not at all complicated.

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