A parliamentary showdown on the Opposition People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) motion of no-confidence in the David Granger-led Administration is set to take place today (Friday).
Opposition Leader Dr Bharrat Jagdeo is urging Government Members of Parliament (MP) to vote their conscience, while the Government has expressed confidence of surviving the vote.
The Opposition Leader has already expressed fears that there may be attempts to disrupt the vote by persons in the gallery and has since called for fairness in this process.
According to him, it only takes one crossover vote or two abstentions from the Government side for them to win. The Government holds a one-seat majority in the National Assembly.
Jagdeo has said that because of this precarious margin and certain information his party has received, they were apprehensive. He hopes that the diplomatic community would bear witness to the proceedings, whichever way the vote turned out.
And while the Government has acknowledged there were challenges and a “few” missteps, it insisted that there were also “impressive” successes since 2015.
It bragged about its foreign affairs triumphs, the holding of Local Government Elections, regular Parliament sittings and Cabinet meetings and the “marked reduction” in serious crimes.
The Government went on to boast of installing “thousands” of street lights, improvements to education, “reliable public health care”, infrastructural advancements, and the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) expansion project started under the former Government.
However, Jagdeo said the country is “drifting” because of a lack of vision of the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) coalition Government. According to him, the No-Confidence Motion is intended to protect Guyanese and Guyana from the excessive borrowing, taxing and wasteful spending of the current Administration. Several other key issues were listed by the Opposition.
Meanwhile, the AFC in a recent statement had said that the PPP/C is engaged in a distasteful act of tabling the motion at a time when President David Granger announced that he was seeking medical attention and needed the nation’s support.
The AFC labelled the motion “at best superfluous, and vexatious and at worse, a cowardly manoeuvre against the President, and should be withdrawn.”
But the PPP/C responded in a statement on Thursday saying that Prime Minister Nagamootoo, “in his usual thoughtless way and seeing an opening to exhibit egotistical bravado and arrogant brinkmanship, flatly rejected the suggestion and clumsily challenged the PPP to “bring it on”.
After public pressure is rising for a postponement of the motion, the PPP/C said Nagamootoo then issued a call to them to withdraw the motion, once again, “insensitively and callously exploiting the President’s illness as one of the basis of his call.”
“The PPP/C deeply regrets that the President’s unfortunate illness has become the subject of such juvenile political machinations by his own Government and we continue to wish him well and a speedy recovery. While the PPP remains ready, able and willing to debate the No-confidence Motion at any time, it does not enjoy the power of postponing it,” the Party added.
Meanwhile, amid concerns that there might be disruptions in the National Assembly today when the No-Confidence Motion in the David Granger led-Government will be debated, there have been certain assurances given that heightened security will be a key feature at this sitting.
Opposition Chief Whip and PPP/C MP, Gail Teixeira said she was given that assurance by Commissioner of Police Leslie James who contacted her on Thursday evening. Teixeira had written the Top Cop expressing certain concerns in relation to security at Parliament.
The Chief Whip noted in her missive that the Party had received information that there would be an attempt to prevent the members of the parliamentary Opposition from entering the compound of the Parliament Building today.
“I’m happy that the Commissioner made contact with us in response to that letter and that he has indicated that he has taken the matter seriously and that they (Police) have put measures in place to try and ensure that such efforts does not succeed,” she told this media group when contacted on Thursday.
But a flyer being circulated throughout the country and on social media has also raised some concern. The flyer which was purportedly put together by the APNU and AFC is calling for supporters to picket Parliament when the motion is being debated.
Teixeira said her party has no issue with people supporting their party through a peaceful picketing exercise, since it is within their right to do so. However, she said if it becomes “disruptive behaviour” then she that won’t be acceptable and should be condoned.
She also acknowledged statements made by Prime Minister Mosses Nagamootoo that the PPP plans to send in provocateurs in their picketing exercise. She said it was totally untrue. “We are not mobilising people for tomorrow (today) and we are not having a counter picketing.”
Jagdeo had first announced the No-confidence Motion on November 15, 2018, on the heels of devastating losses in the Local Government Elections (LGE) for the coalition Government.
The next day, the scheduled sitting of the National Assembly was abruptly cancelled at Government’s request and the Opposition turned up to an empty chamber. In the half-empty Parliament Chambers, Jagdeo reiterated some of his expectations regarding the motion. (Samuel Sukhnandan)