Speaker, Deputy to be chosen when Parliament convenes on Tuesday

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The Arthur Chung Conference Centre will accommodate the parliamentary sittings. [Photo taken from Facebook Page of Sase Gunraj]
With the convening of the 12th Parliament tomorrow (September 1), a number of matters are expected to be addressed.

These include the election of a Speaker and Deputy Speaker and the presentation of the budget proposals from 22 constitutional agencies.

This is according to the order paper for the sitting of the session, which takes place at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre (ACCC), rather than the usual Parliament Building, owing to COVID-19 and the need to socially distance.

The process for electing a Speaker entails first a nomination and then a vote. With 33 seats in the National Assembly, it is likely that whoever the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) nominates will be elected Speaker, as was the case with the Speaker of the 11th Parliament, Dr Barton Scotland, who A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) nominated in 2015.

There has been no Parliament since May 23, 2019 on account of the successful passage of a no-confidence motion against the APNU/AFC Administration on December 21, 2018. But although the motion was passed, the APNU/AFC Government refused to demit office and brought a slew of legal challenges on the validity of the motion. The Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) later affirmed the no-confidence motion.

During that time, only members on the governing side attended parliamentary sittings. Members of the then Opposition PPP/C had committed to not attending sittings until after elections were held, as the successful passage of the motion required that elections be held three months thereafter on March 21, 2019.

But GECOM failed to hold General and Regional Elections within the constitutionally mandated period, mainly because it was not prepared for the snap elections. Parliament was later dissolved on December 30, 2019, paving the way for the March 2, 2020 elections.

The elections results are as follow: PPP/C will hold a majority in the National Assembly with 33 seats; the APNU/AFC coalition has 31 seats, while the joinder parties – A New and United Guyana (ANUG); Liberty and Justice Party (LJP), and The New Movement (TNM) – will have one seat.