Opposition to Diplomats: Government has fallen, it cannot be business as usual

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…says if elections are not held within the time frame stipulated by the Constitution, Government will be considered an illegitimate and unconstitutional one

Opposition Leader Dr Bharrat Jagdeo

Opposition Leader Dr Bharrat Jagdeo met with diplomats from the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and the European Union on Friday, as the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) shared its concerns following the recent no-confidence resolution and its expectations for the next 90 days.

In an interview with the media following the one-hour long meeting, Jagdeo noted that he outlined to the diplomatic community that if elections are not held within the timeframe stipulated by the Constitution, the Government will be considered an illegitimate and unconstitutional one.

“We in the parliamentary Opposition will treat the Government if elections are not held by that date as illegitimate and that no act that they engage in internationally or locally would be recognised.

This will have major implications for Guyana, for investors and for all concerned. I have also urged the diplomatic community to be involved in the process of free and fair elections,” Jagdeo added.

According to the Opposition Leader, one of the things the Party wants is observer teams from several international organisations and the customary countries to ensure the vote is free from fraud.

Diplomats leaving the Opposition Leader’s Church Street office on Friday

“I expressed the desire of the People’s Progressive Party to see a massive observer group from all the agencies… Caricom (Caribbean Community); the European Union; OAS (Organisation of American States); UNASUR (Union of South American Nations); Carter Centre, Commonwealth, etc.”

“Then I also made it clear to them that we are very concerned about the shenanigans that seem to be brewing behind this Government’s statement that they are exploring legal and other options,” the former President said.

Jagdeo said Government has gone from accepting the results of the vote to searching for ways to reverse it. He pointed out that both Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo and President David Granger had previously accepted that the Government had fallen, and elections were due.

The Opposition Leader slammed the Government for breaking the trust and good will he had hoped would be built up ahead of his meeting with the President. Jagdeo noted that far from using the time to calm the country following the vote, reports that Government is searching for a way to reverse the results have caused tension.

“I said to them (diplomats) we, the People’s Progressive Party, will not accept that, and obviously there would be instability in the country if this (Government reversing its word) were to happen. I also said that we will not accept a judicial coup… the Legislative branch has made a decision. That has to be respected.”

The Opposition Leader noted that he also told the diplomatic community that his party would not return to the National Assembly, unless for issues related to elections. He made it clear that the Government has fallen, and it cannot be business as usual for the Government when it comes to passing bills in the National Assembly.

Jagdeo reiterated that the Government is there in a caretaker capacity. He acknowledged that the National Assembly may have to meet to pass legislation related to the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) or if the PPP agreed to extend the period until elections.

The Opposition Leader was open to meeting with the Government ahead of any future sittings, so that the parameters were set.

“That would be an illegal sitting, as far as we’re concerned. And anything passed in this kind of situation that would not be recognised. We would not recognise anything they do except elections related. We’re not going to go.”

On December 21, 2018, the no-confidence motion brought by the parliamentary Opposition – the People’s Progressive Party (PPP/C) – against the Government succeeded when former AFC Member of Parliament 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, 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.”

The President has already committed to following the provisions outlined in the Constitution, facilitating early elections and engaging in dialogue with the Leader of the Opposition, upon his return from Cuba where he departed for treatment.

Since the passage of the motion on December 21, however, persons aligned with the coalition party have sought to question the motion’s validity even as the vote has already been certified.

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