As Parliament comes out of recess today, no sitting has been fixed according to the clerk of the National Assembly, Sherlock Isaacs.
He told Guyana Times on Wednesday that there is no indication as to when the sitting will be held.
As it is, President David Granger and his caretaker coalition government is under pressure to dissolve Parliament since an elections date has already been announced.
However, during a recent address to the nation on September 25, 2019, the Head of State had said, “The Government of Guyana must, as a consequence, return to the National Assembly to request an extension. The National Assembly reconvenes on 10th October, 2019. The President is required to both dissolve Parliament, as provided for in the Constitution at Article 70 (2), and the ten Regional Democratic Councils, as provided for in the Constitution at Article 73 (2)”.
Since announcing March 2, 2020 as Elections Day weeks ago, and subsequent issuance of the elections proclamations, calls have been mounting for President Granger to now dissolve the 11th Parliament.
But Attorney General Basil Williams last week said the coalition is still hopeful that the parliamentary Opposition – People’s Progressive Party/C (PPP/C) – will return to the National Assembly to extend its life; otherwise, he foresees a “crisis” situation in Guyana.
Williams had indicated that Government was supposed to make a decision on its return to Parliament at its Cabinet (which, according to the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), stands resigned) meeting on Tuesday.
However, Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo had long thrown cold water on any expectation that his party will return to Parliament. In fact, the Opposition had not attended any parliamentary sitting since January when House Speaker, Dr Barton Scotland, had refused to overturn the December 21, 2018 passage of the No-Confidence Motion as requested by Government and directed them to seek redress in the courts.
The CCJ – Guyana’s highest appellate court – has since validated the passage of the Opposition-tabled motion, which it said activated Article 106 of the Constitution. This provides for Cabinet, including the President, to resign and call elections in three months unless there is a two-thirds majority vote of all sitting members of the National Assembly to extend that timeline.
Jagdeo, a former President, had clarified that an extension of Government’s life is unnecessary since it is not linked to any decisions that should be taken to facilitate the polls.
Moreover, the CCJ would have bestowed the coalition administration with a caretaker status, indicating that its main function is to host elections.
“He sought to link the date with the return of the parliamentary Opposition to Parliament to extend the life of his Government…Therein are several fallacies. One, there is no link to the extension of his Government, which has been illegal since March 21. He never sought that extension before,” Jagdeo had pointed out.
The Opposition Leader further added, “Secondly, the extension is wholly unnecessary for him to discharge the caretaker responsibility that had been accorded to him by the CCJ. Because a caretaker Government is only vested with one responsibility, that is, holding elections and having the authority to do all the things necessary with the holding of elections. By virtue of being caretaker, he can proclaim the date and he can dissolve the Parliament”.
According to Jagdeo, Government is looking at the extension as a legal footing for activities which are not authorised under a caretaker administration.
“We believe the real reason for all of this [is] they want legal coverage for all the criminal acts of theft and transfers of resources that they have committed because they believe if we extend the life of the Government, there will be no prosecution. There can’t be prosecution,” he signalled.
In this regard, he reaffirmed that there is a zero per cent chance of them returning to the National Assembly.
“We have no intention of going to Parliament to extend the life of his Government. Absolutely none. No intention whatsoever,” Jagdeo positioned.