President must dissolve Parliament – fmr National Assembly Clerk
… says it demonstrates sincere intent to hold early elections
Prior to the holding of a General and Regional elections, Parliament has to be dissolved by a proclamation from the President with a set date for elections. Despite the passage of a No-Confidence Motion against his government over seven months ago, however, President David Granger has failed to do anything.
In an interview with Guyana Times on Sunday, longstanding former Clerk of the National Assembly, Frank Narine asserted that indeed the President was supposed to dissolve Parliament before an election date could be set – if elections are to be held.
“Everyone seems to be interpreting the Constitution in their own way,” he asserted. “The Constitution says what must happen. Article 106 says that when a No-Confidence Motion is passed, the President and Cabinet have to resign. And it goes on to say elections must be held in three months after the passing of the motion, unless the National Assembly extends the time.
“The President has to proclaim a date for elections. And it is the President who will have to dissolve Parliament before elections. The President has to formally issue a proclamation dissolving Parliament, so the National Assembly can’t meet. Members cease to be members … I think if it’s dissolved, it means he’s serious: he’s going to have elections. But the President hasn’t done anything.”
Narine noted that when the No-Confidence Motion was passed, the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) should have been getting its systems ready for the possibility of holding elections and not idling. He likened it to staff knowing what they have to do, but failing to carry out their mandate.
“It means they were sleeping. If the President has a member of staff and he says I want this report by the end of the month, and that staff member fails to give it, what must the President do? It means the President has the wrong staff member. Did they get directions not to (get ready to) hold elections?”
Already, Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo has ruled out his side supporting any extension of the life of the Government through Parliament. According to Article 106 of the Constitution, such an extension requires a two-thirds majority of all members of National Assembly.
Article 106 (6) of the Constitution states: “The Cabinet including the President shall resign if the Government is defeated by the vote of a majority of all the elected members of the National Assembly on a vote of confidence.”
Meanwhile, Article 106 (7) states: “Notwithstanding its defeat, the Government shall remain in office and shall hold an election within three months, or such longer period as the National Assembly shall by resolution supported by not less than two-thirds of the votes of all the elected members of the National Assembly determine, and shall resign after the President takes the oath of office following the election.”
Such a No-Confidence Motion was passed on December 21, 2018 and according to Jagdeo, during a previous press conference, Government sought to delay election preparations rather than comply with the Constitution. As a consequence, the Opposition Leader said that the window for his side to agree to extend their time in Government has closed. Meanwhile, GECOM has no Chairman.
Since the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) ruled that former GECOM Chairman, Retired Justice James Patterson was appointed unconstitutionally, he has resigned. As such, Jagdeo and Granger have been trying to find a replacement to carry out the necessary early elections. In keeping with this, Jagdeo submitted a list of 11 nominees gleaned from the lists he submitted in 2017, before Patterson’s unilateral appointment.
On the other hand, President Granger’s informal list includes Retired Justices James Patterson, Claudette La Bennett and Stanley Moore as well as economist Aubrey Armstrong, Attorney Kesaundra Alves and former Solicitor General Kim Kyte. The President also proposed known People’s National Congress (PNC) affiliates Stanley Ming (a former PNC parliamentarian) and Kads Khan.