– says meeting with President to deal with Constitution, elections
While Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo will raise the issues of constitutional matters and the holding of elections when he meets President David Granger this week, he has made it clear that this meeting comes against the backdrop of Government’s broken promises.
On Saturday, the Opposition Leader said Government by its own actions has done everything possible to undermine collaboration in the national interest between the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) and the A Partnership for National Unity (APNU).
“After the passage of the No-confidence Motion… I made a statement that we have to see this as an opportunity to discuss how we act in the 90 days period and preparation for elections in compliance with the Constitution of Guyana (and) to start exploring post-election possibilities of working together in the interest of Guyana and all our people,” Jagdeo said in a statement.
“I was pleased that both the Prime Minister and President accepted the outcome of the no-confidence vote and that the President issued a press release which indicated that he will meet with me and that he wanted to speak about enhancing political cooperation. Since then they have acted in bad faith and done everything to undermine this collaborative approach.”
Jagdeo pointed out that the coalition has since reneged on the public statements their leaders made accepting the passage of the No-confidence Motion. And according to Jagdeo, they have done this using “the most ludicrous arguments”, at this point referencing the 34, 31 as a majority argument.
He also recalled statements from Government functionaries that they took a tactical decision not to speak about this until after the motion was passed for fear of activating “five other PPP moles on the Government side.”
Jagdeo also pointed to statements made by People’s National Congress (PNC) stalwarts that the PPP bribed now expelled Alliance For Change Parliamentarian Charrandas Persaud. This statement, the Opposition Leader noted, was made without providing a shred of evidence.
“Having failed to get the Speaker to reverse the ruling that the no-confidence was carried, they have now resorted to the courts to override the Constitution… It seems as though the protracted period for the meeting is to give them time to wriggle out of the obligations imposed on them by Articles 106(6) and 106(7) of our Constitution. We will fiercely resist this.”
“Compliance with our Constitution in relation to the No-confidence Motion and preparation for free and fair elections will therefore be the main issue on the agenda of the meeting with the President on January 9, we will however still keep an open mind on issues of governance despite the bad faith approach and concerted attempts by the coalition to squander the goodwill for progress and mature, sensible behaviour.”
On December 21, 2018, the No-confidence Motion brought by the parliamentary Opposition against the Government succeeded when Persaud, who has since left the jurisdiction, broke rank 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, clause 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. The original proponent of the 34-vote argument is in fact Attorney Nigel Hughes, a former AFC Chairman and the husband of Minister Cathy Hughes.
He told State media that half of 65 is 32.5 but when rounded to the nearest whole number this would be 33 as there is no half member. This argument formed part of the opinions presented to Speaker of the National Assembly, Dr Barton Scotland in the hopes that he would reverse the ruling. On Thursday, the Speaker refused to do so.
Amid calls to resign, Government has insisted it is going nowhere. A court case was filed on Friday, in which an order is being sought to, among other things, delay the elections until the court rules on whether or not Persaud was qualified to be an MP.
The PPP has since urged the Judiciary not to facility Governments conspiracy to undermine Guyana’s Constitution. In the meantime, President David Granger and Jagdeo’s meeting is set for January 9.