– President meets with top security officials
Following Friday’s historic no-confidence vote, a meeting is being arranged between Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo and President David Granger when the latter returns from Cuba early in January.
Jagdeo made this revelation during a press conference on Monday, when he read a letter from Minister of State, Joseph Harmon. In the letter, the Minister promised that a precise date for the meeting will be set upon Granger’s return. Referring to Government’s posture since it lost the vote, Jagdeo acknowledged the maturity displayed by coalition leaders.
“There was a press conference held immediately after Parliament and I saw Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo speaking on behalf of the Government. He said they respect the decision of the no-confidence vote, that the Government had fallen and elections were constitutionally due.
“I saw the President reflect similar sentiments and also express the hope that we could work even closer now. You would recall that in Parliament on that very day I approached Minister Harmon and I said I would like to meet the President if possible,” he said.
Certifying no-confidence vote
Jagdeo also noted that he has received an official document from the Clerk of the National Assembly, Sherlock Isaacs certifying the passage of the no-confidence motion. This is significant as certain sections of society have questioned the validity of the vote. This is despite it being recognised by the Government itself, the National Assembly and the international community.
With their respective supporters still absorbing the results, Jagdeo reiterated the need for a meeting between him and President Granger. He noted that while the Constitution was clear on the time line for elections, there was still need for them to discuss the dynamics pre-and-post elections.
“We still need to talk about this period, about our conduct in this period, a conduct that doesn’t polarise our country any further. And I said my party is prepared to have that discussion about the future, what happens in the post-election period that would result in a new government. Whether the new government is controlled by APNU/AFC or PPP, there shall be a new government.”
The Opposition Leader also noted that he has informed PPP/C supporters of the need to avoid triumphalism in the wake of the no-confidence vote. Jagdeo lauded the fact that most of Guyana have accepted the results and gone forward with the festive season.
Meanwhile, President Granger on Monday convened special meetings with his Cabinet and the National Security Committee (NSC). Among the topics discussed was the fall of his Government on account of the no-confidence motion.
With the Government’s defeat, the Constitution of Guyana is clear on what the next steps are. According to a statement from the Government; however, the legal and constitutional aspects of the vote were examined at the meeting and a sub-committee established to advise further on the matter.
“The Sub-Committee will examine all the legal opinions available and report to Cabinet on Thursday, December 27 with recommendations on the way forward,” the release from the Government states.
“The Government wishes to give the full assurance to you the citizens that all necessary measures to ensure your safety and security are in place and that, in this regard, you go about your business in a confident manner.”
However, despite Government’s examination of the legal options to go forward, the Constitution of Guyana is clear on the matter.
Article 106 (6) of the Constitution of Guyana 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.”
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.”
While the release did not elaborate on why the NSC met, Guyana recently drew international attention when the Venezuelan navy intercepted and forced an ExxonMobil research vessel to cease conducting its work in the Stabroek block.
This led to Exxon announcing the suspension of seismic data collection.