PPP to challenge President (ag) sitting in National Assembly
…breaching explicit constitutional strictures
With President David Granger away in Cuba seeking treatment for non-hodgkin lymphoma, the task of acting President has fallen to Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo. According to the parliamentary Opposition, however, Nagamootoo’s continued presence in the National Assembly is in violation of the constitution, and will not go unchallenged.
On the final day of budget debates, Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo zeroed in on the matter during his contribution to the debates. He cited Article 178 (4) of the Constitution, which states that any Minister performing the functions of the office of
the President has to vacate his seat during that period.
“I believe the honourable Prime Minister is squatting in the House! It says, as part of our Constitution, ‘During any period when the Minister is performing the functions of the office of the President, his or her seat in the National Assembly shall be regarded as vacant,” Jagdeo said.
Article 178 (4) goes on to state that the seat of the acting President “may be temporarily filled in accordance with any provision made under article 160 (3). At the expiration of the period, the person temporarily filling the seat shall vacate it, and the seat shall thereupon be resumed by the Minister.”
The perusal of the estimates of Budget 2019 begins today. The Ministry of the Presidency is the first Ministry to be examined, followed by the Office of the Prime Minister. And Jagdeo made it clear that his party will not look the other way should Nagamootoo, who is a lawyer by profession, show up in the chambers.
“In accordance with these provisions of the Constitution, we have had this Prime Minister come here over and over when he is acting as President, in violation of
our Constitution, squatting in the Parliament contrary to the practise of the past; and we have allowed this to happen,” Jagdeo said.
“We plan, Mr Speaker, to raise this on Monday when we come to consider the estimates. His presence will not be missed in the House. I’m sure they can find another member of the APNU side to perform the functions (of Leader of Government business),” Jagdeo said.
On Tuesday last, President Granger had left Guyana, accompanied by his wife Sandra Granger, for his second round of chemotherapy in Cuba, and Nagamootoo was sworn in as acting President.
Prior to his departure from the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA), President Granger had revealed that he has to return for five successive cycles of treatment, and this was his second cycle.
“I hope to return much more quickly than I did the first visit, because this is simply the administration of chemotherapy; so, presumably after the tests, which will be done today (Tuesday), I will have the chemotherapy and return by weekend,” the President had said.
According to the Ministry of the Presidency, Granger will return to Cuba later this
month for his third round of treatment. “I expect that by the start of the New Year, my progress, which has been gradual so far, will be sufficient to allow me to take on more duties,” he has said.
The President and the First Lady first travelled to Cuba on October 30, 2018, for him to undergo medical tests after he complained of feeling unwell. It was later revealed that the Head of State was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma, which is a type of cancer that develops in the lymphatic system.