Speaker says vacant APNU seats could be filled by next parliamentary sitting

– Norton says party has written to Granger nominating himself, Volda Lawrence

The vacant seats on the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) side of the National Assembly can be filled as early as the next parliamentary sitting. But this depends on how quickly the Opposition moves to fill these seats.

Speaker of the House, Manzoor Nadir

In an interview with the media on Monday, Speaker of the National Assembly Manzoor Nadir was asked about the vacant Opposition seats in the National Assembly… both of which have been vacant since the end of March.
While two names, People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) Leader Aubrey Norton, and Volda Lawrence, have emerged as possible candidates, Representative of the List of Candidates David Granger still has to write Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) Chief Elections Officer (CEO) Vishnu Persaud as part of the process.
According to Nadir, the two candidates can be sworn in as early as the next sitting but that depends on how quickly the Opposition acts and whether the names can be conveyed formally to him before the sitting.
“I don’t know when Parliament will be convened. If names reach to me before the next sitting of Parliament, those persons will be sworn in… so far, my concern is a transmission from the Speaker to the leader of the list.”
“I haven’t received back anything from the representative of the list. What happens between the representative of the list and GECOM and GECOM and the representative of the list, I can’t say at this time,” Nadir said.

Representative of List of Candidates, David Granger

The Speaker also noted that the appointment of the Leader of the Opposition can occur on the very day those new members are sworn in. All it takes is him convening a meeting of all Opposition Members of Parliament, which presumably includes APNU/AFC and the joinder parties represented in the person of Liberty and Justice Party (LJP) Leader Lennox Shuman.
“Once we have the members sworn in, it is the duty of the Speaker to convene a meeting of all the Members of Parliament not on the Government side, to elect a Leader of the Opposition. And that can happen within minutes after we conclude the first sitting when the new MPs are sworn in. So that would happen, almost immediately afterward,” Nadir explained.
It had previously been reported that Norton and Lawrence, herself a former parliamentarian and Minister of Public Health under the Granger Administration, have been nominated to fill the vacant seats. These seats became vacant following the resignation of former Opposition Leader Harmon, who officially resigned as an APNU/AFC Member of Parliament on March 15, and former Education Minister under Granger’s coalition Government, Nicolette Henry, whose resignation took effect on March 31, 2022.

PNCR Leader Aubrey Norton

Harmon had contested for leadership of the PNC but lost to Norton who won by a landslide victory. Granger, who was the immediate past leader of the PNCR, did not contest for re-election. In fact, neither Harmon nor Granger was elected to the Central Executive Committee of the party – the highest decision-making body of the PNC.
Norton, whose party controls the two vacant seats, already has a mandate from party executives to become Opposition Leader. This publication meanwhile made contact with Norton on Monday and he confirmed that the party has already written to Granger, in keeping with the process to fill the vacant seats. Norton also confirmed that both himself and Lawrence were nominated.

PNCR member Volda Lawrence

“Mr Granger, when he gets it, will (follow the requisite procedures). But yes, the two names are Norton and Lawrence,” Norton, who at the time was in a meeting in Congress Place, explained to this publication.
The APNU/AFC Opposition accounts for 31 of the 32-seat parliamentary Opposition, while the joinder list comprising of A New and United Guyana (ANUG), the Liberty and Justice Party (LJP) and The New Movement (TNM) occupies the remaining seat. The governing People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) holds a one-seat majority in the 65-seat House, having won 33 seats.