Jagdeo warns of plot to disrupt no-confidence vote against Govt
…calls for protection of MPs
Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo is calling for the authorities and the National Assembly to implement measures that will protect Members of Parliament and ensure that Friday’s no-confidence vote can go forward unhindered.
Jagdeo made this call during a press conference on Monday at his Church Street, Georgetown office. The Opposition Leader expressed fears that there may be attempts to disrupt the vote by persons in the gallery.
According to Jagdeo, it only takes one crossover vote or two abstentions from the Government side for them to win. He said that because of this precarious margin and certain information his party has received, they were apprehensive.
“We are aware that they plan to install people in the galleries and should someone (from Government) vote in favour of the no-confidence motion, from the galleries
they will … disrupt the vote. We’ve heard that should [that] fail, some of their MPs will disrupt the vote.”
Jagdeo theorised that they may be hoping that should the vote be disrupted, the vote will be invalidated. He made it clear that his party would notify Speaker of the National Assembly, Dr Barton Scotland.
“We will bring this to the attention of the Speaker. We will also insist, like what happens in many parts of the world, once someone votes in favour of the no-confidence motion, the Government falls. If you have 32 votes on our side, and one of their Members of Parliament vote in favour, the mathematics changes and it’s 33 in favour and 32 remaining votes.
“When the Clerk of the National Assembly calls the names of the Members of Parliament and should one of their members vote (in favour), no matter what happens afterwards, the vote is passed … because if you allow disruptions, you can never have (a non-contentious vote). So, if the Speaker allows (the vote to be invalidated), we will deem that an act of collusion.”
Jagdeo expressed hope that the diplomatic community would bear witness to the proceedings, whichever way the vote turned out. Noting that the proceedings were being recorded, he warned that attempts to disrupt the vote would be publicised around the world. Jagdeo also spoke of threats and related that they would write to the Commissioner of Police.
“I know for sure, apart from the occasional threats to our MPs passed off in a jocular manner, so they can always claim it was done in jest. But these threats are pregnant in the parliamentary atmosphere. We know for sure the threats are even more ominous and take on real form.”
That being said, Jagdeo also extended an olive branch. In light of the December 21 date for the motion falling close to Christmas, Jagdeo had no objections to the National Assembly delaying the vote to early January.
Jagdeo had first announced the no-confidence motion on November 15, 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. At the half-empty Parliament Chambers, Jagdeo reiterated some of his expectations regarding the motion.
In a subsequent advertisement, the PPP went into further detail on its reasons for filing the motion, and the concrete reasons for the people’s rejection of the People’s National Congress (PNC)-led coalition. It pointed to the thousands of jobs that have been lost as a result of the closure of Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) estates.
In addition, the Party referred to the various scandals that have erupted under the Administration. They include the single sourcing of the feasibility contract for the new Demerara River crossing, the single sourcing of a drug bond and the single sourcing of drug procurement contracts.
The Party noted the numerous breaches of fiscal laws flagged by the Audit Office of Guyana in its reports, as well as the lack of accountability in the D’Urban Park Project, something even the Auditor General had to launch a special probe into. The depletion of Guyana’s gold and foreign reserves was also highlighted.
Court settlements since the coalition Government took office were also zeroed in on by the Party. The Attorney General’s Chambers has come under much criticism for not being able to secure successes in several cases against the State.
Since taking office, in addition to losing cases, Government has opted to enter into out-of-court settlements. These settlements include sums to the tune of US$5.7 million, $226 million and $3.8 billion.