No sitting of National Assembly today

– Clerk not officially informed of sitting
– confusion reigns in Govt spokespersons
The much-anticipated sitting of the National Assembly today has been postponed.
Clerk of the National Assembly, Sherlock Isaacs on Wednesday told Guyana Times that the Parliament Office was not formally informed of a sitting for today’s date and as such, no preparations were made.
“As far as I’m aware [there will be no sitting today] and I did not send out Order Paper… The Order Paper is the invitation that is given to a member when there is a sitting. It is my duty, yes, to send out the Order Paper when there is a sitting [but] nobody told me about any sitting so no Order Paper was sent,” Isaacs stated.
According to the Clerk of the National Assembly, Members of Parliament (MPs) are to be given a six-day notice prior to any sitting and Government is well aware of this, hence they would need to give notice with ample time to prepare for a House sitting but this was not done.
When contacted, however, Government’s Chief Whip Amna Ally confirmed that there will not be any sitting of the National Assembly today.

Clerk of the National Assembly Sherlock Isaacs

Government’s spokesperson, Minister of State Joseph Harmon had announced during a post-Cabinet press briefing two weeks ago that Government will be returning to the National Assembly on April 11 following the Court of Appeal’s ruling that the December 21, 2018, passage of the no-confidence motion was invalid.
However, when questioned whether Government had changed its mind about reconvening parliamentary sitting or that they dropped the ball in following procedures to prepare for their return, the Government’s Chief Whip declined to answer.

Government Chief Whip Amna Ally

Further asked about the coalition’s plans to return to the National Assembly after the three-month hiatus, Ally said “you will know when we have Parliament. As soon as we confirmed a date, we will let you guys know”.
At the time when Minister Harmon had announced the date for the reconvening of parliamentary sitting, he had also indicated that all MPs on Government’s side will be attending the sitting, including himself, who along with two other Ministers have dual citizen status – something which has been under much contention in recent months. Local courts have since ruled that it was illegal for persons holding dual citizenship to be elected to sit in the National Assembly.

Minister of State Joseph Harmon

Since then, Harmon, Foreign Affairs Minister and Second Vice President Carl Greenidge and Business Minister Dominic Gaskin have resigned and the former two will be giving up their second citizenship. But President David Granger said one day after accepting the three resignations that it would not be with immediate effect. The Head of State explained that there are certain constitutional processes that need to be followed before the three Ministers are officially resigned.
However, Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo has stated that Government was not serious with the resignations and that it was a deliberate ploy to show the public that they are adhering to the courts’ ruling.
On this note, he announced that three Opposition MPs, Chief Whip Gail Teixeira, Odinga Lumumba and Adrian Anamayah will also be resigning as MPs and have started this process. Additionally, Jagdeo had noted that with the exception of Anamayah, the other two Opposition Parliamentarians will also be renouncing their foreign citizenship.
Despite this, however, the Parliamentary Opposition has indicated that they will not be attending any House sitting until the appeals on the no-confidence motion before the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) are determined.
The last sitting of the National Assembly was on January 3, when House Speaker Dr Barton Scotland refused a request by Government to reverse the passage of the no-confidence motion.
Government then moved to the High Court, where they were once again unsuccessful. A subsequent approach to the Court of Appeal resulted in a 2:1 majority decision that the motion needed an absolute majority of 34 votes and not a simple majority of 33 to be valid.
The Opposition, PPP, has since appealed this ruling at the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), which has set May 10 for arguments on the matters.