Govt wasting valuable opportunity for dialogue – Opposition Leader
…says President bears ultimate responsibility for confusion created
The parliamentary Opposition believes that in continuing the baseless accusations which are being thrown against the People’s Progressive Party, the Government is wasting a valuable opportunity for dialogue and exhibition of mature leadership.
This is according to Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo, who was at the time addressing a press conference on Monday, where he criticised the Government’s back-pedalling on accepting the vote.
Both President David Granger and Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo had
previously promised to abide by the constitutional provisions a no-confidence vote mandates. Jagdeo laid collective blame for the confusion over the no-confidence resolution at the feet of the President, noting that notwithstanding his illness he was still Head of State and bore ultimate responsibility.
“After the lofty words of the Prime Minister and the President and the commitment to engage on a way forward, we’ve seen the Government retreat into its usual tools, which is wild accusations and confrontation. These are tools that they know very well how to use.
“And, of course, fake news and propaganda to mobilise people, particularly in the APNU [A Partnership For National Unity] base, into believing that they were robbed; having failed to mobilise people to come out in defence of the Government in front the National Assembly.”
The Opposition Leader expressed his belief that Granger, who travelled to Cuba for medical treatment soon after the no-confidence vote, could not be unaware of his Government’s subsequent attempts to overturn the ruling.
“I think that the President has to bear responsibility for this. We have already expressed our concern for his illness. And he has already received our best wishes. But he is still the Head of State.”
“(President Granger) issued a statement before he left, talking about moving forward, respecting the Constitution and a commitment to engagement. His minions, and I believe with his approval, have now gone in a totally different direction. So, the President has to bear responsibility for this.”
Far from backing down, Jagdeo also committed to ramping up his defence of the
sanctity of the no-confidence vote taken on December 21 against efforts to overturn it. He spoke directly to supporters, who he said reached out to the Party and backed its initial extension of the olive branch to the Government.
“I want them to know that the PPP did its bit and they can now see how APNU has responded, with its usual old-style politics. So, we have no alternative but to also ramp up our efforts in this regard. We have been taking a different position. I’ve said to all our MPs and party leadership, let’s await the return of the President before we … even respond to the hostility they have been peddling. But now that has to change.
“This is a tiny desperate corrupt cabal of Ministers, advisors and friends, who have now realised the consequences of the no-confidence motion. And they have seen the writing on the wall, because they have been neglecting the people, even APNU supporters. That is why we see the desperation now and all these arguments that defy logic, about 34 (votes). These are not logical arguments,” Jagdeo said.
On December 21, the no-confidence motion brought by the parliamentary Opposition – the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) – against the Government succeeded when Charrandas Persaud, a former AFC Member of Parliament, broke ranks and made a conscience vote in favour of the motion.
But in a move to reverse this, Government has since approached Speaker of the National Assembly, Dr Barton Scotland to ask him to invalidate the no-confidence vote, which brought them down on December 21.
According to a legal opinion which had Attorney General Basil Williams’ name attached to it, Government wants the Speaker to use his powers to reverse the vote, arguing, among other things, that 34 out of 65 constitutes a majority in Guyana’s National Assembly. This is the same opinion expressed by Attorney Nigel Hughes, the husband of Government Minister Cathy Hughes.
The opinion claimed that 50 per cent of the 65 votes in the National Assembly constitutes 32.5, which has to then be rounded up to 33, with an extra vote added to it, making it 34. According to the opinion provided by the Government, passing a no-confidence motion is different from passing legislation.
The opinion goes on to claim that since former AFC parliamentarian Charrandas Persaud is a Canadian citizen and had allegedly travelled on his Canadian passport, he forfeited his vote.
Government admits that Persaud’s private travelling records were accessed from Guyana’s Immigration Department and states that a copy will be provided to the Speaker.
Government also intends to challenge “Whether the Speaker can reverse the ruling that the no-confidence motion was carried? What is the effect of the sub judice rule should the Speaker’s ruling be legally challenged in the Courts” and “Whether the Speaker’s ruling on the vote can be quashed by the Courts?”