Opposition agreed only to caretaker Govt, “not business as usual”
…to review all Govt contracts/bills signed after Dec 21
Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo has bashed the Administration for spinning the outcome out of last week’s high-level meeting between the Government and the Opposition.
Speaking at his weekly press conference on Thursday, Jagdeo sought to address the issue, explaining to the media that Government has been misleading the public on the agreements coming out of that meeting.
“Since then they have been on a spin mode that: one, we had agreed on functioning of the executive branch and the legislature – that they will function as per normal, that’s not true. Two, that we’ve dropped our call for the resignation of the Government, that is not true… and [three] that somehow, we are contemplating shifting the deadline [for elections] and pending the readiness of GECOM – that’s a new factor – the deadline would be shifted,” Jagdeo highlighted.
According to the Opposition Leader, the March 19 deadline is in accordance with the constitutional provision, which states that Government should resign and call elections within three months of the passage of a no-confidence motion.
“The Constitution, not APNU [A Partnership for National Unity], defines the time period elections would be held,” he asserted.
On December 21, the present regime toppled when former Alliance For Change (AFC) Member of Parliament, Charrandas Persaud broke ranks and voted in favour of the Opposition’s no-confidence motion.
Jagdeo pointed out that the PPP went into last week’s engagement with the Government with goodwill so that the situation could be addressed with maturity and in the best interest of the nation.
However, instead of upholding and adhering to the Constitution, he said the coalition has been adopting various methods to delay its exit from office and hang on to power a little longer.
“Our position is this government should still resign. We believe that they are now in a caretaker capacity and that they have to prepare for elections … but they created an impression that I give them the okay to remain in office,” Jagdeo stated.
During the meeting, the Opposition Leader recalled that when the President maintained that nowhere in Article 106 (7) provides for a “caretaker” Government, he pointed the Head of State to Article 106 (6), which states that the Government should resign upon the passage of a no-confidence motion.
Furthermore, Jagdeo said he had reminded the Head of State that back in 2014, it was him, as Opposition Leader, who had said that the Cabinet must resign and a caretaker government would be in place when they had filed a no-confidence motion against the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Administration.
“So I asked him how is it that you had that view then and now you’re saying that this caretaker concept is a new one. The Constitution, between 2014 when you made that statement and now, did not change so it’s not like we’re operating with a new constitution now. He declined to answer that,” Jagdeo recounted.
Moreover, the Opposition Leader made reference to a joint communiqué issued the day after the high-level meeting, in which he contended that while the Government remains in office, its functions must be confined to the provision of essential services of the State and to matters in relation to preparation for General and Regional Elections. Meanwhile, the missive outlined that the President insisted that the Government is legal and must govern without any limitations to perform its lawful functions.
“So clearly, the President believes that the events of the 21st of December did not take place; nothing happened. Although, the Speaker said [the motion] was carried and refused to review the decision; the legislature has spoken. The courts now have indicated that they are not giving a Conservatory Order, which would have stopped the timeline ticking, and yet, the President is in la la land… and doesn’t recognised that 106 (6) and (7) has kicked in already upon the passage of the no-confidence motion,” Jagdeo posited.
On this note, the Opposition Leader stated that from the time the March 19 deadline expires and elections are not held, then the coalition Government goes into unconstitutional territory.
“It becomes illegal and illegitimate and that’s how we’re going to treat them,” he asserted.
To this end, Jagdeo said that all of the policy decisions taken and contracts issued during this period will be reversed when the PPP/C gets into office.
Furthermore, he noted that the Opposition has been engaging the international community, keeping them abreast with the situation in the country and Government’s behaviour since the passage of the no-confidence resolution.