Jagdeo: Timing of No-Confidence motion not connected to President’s absence

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Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo is refuting claims that his Party is taking advantage of President David Granger’s absence given the timing of its No-Confidence motion.

There were suggestions that given the President’s absence, the Prime Minister would be absent from the House, and leave the Government without a majority in the House.

However, speaking with the media following the sudden postponement of Friday’s sitting of the National Assembly, Jagdeo noted that the Government can still retain its 33 members in the House.

He explained that while “any Minister who performs the functions of the President should not be in the National Assembly because when that person is in the National Assembly, it becomes the Parliament,” there is a provision where they can temporarily appoint another member to the House who would have full voting rights and upon the return of the President, that person will then resign and the Prime Minister, in this case, will resume his seat in the House.”

Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo, who is performing the duties of President, at a Coalition press conference on Friday morning said the Opposition is being “insensitive” and “distasteful” for bringing a motion of No-Confidence at a time when the sitting President is ill.

Nagamootoo said even though he is currently performing the functions of the President, he still has the power to vote on decisions to be made in the National Assembly.

Jagdeo submitted the No-Confidence motion against the Government on Thursday premised on the Government’s actions which led to the loss of thousands of jobs in the sugar industry, increase in taxes, increase in the cost of living, allegations of corruption in the Infrastructure sector and breach of procurement laws in the health sector.

On Friday the sitting of the National Assembly was postponed without reason or notice.

Deputy Clerk Ms Hermina Gilgeours made the announcement just 15 minutes before the sitting was due to commence but could not provide a reason.

At the time, only the Opposition Parliamentarians were present in the Chambers.

Opposition MPs subsequently received a short email from Assistant Clerk of the National Assembly, Deslyn West which stated that: “I have been directed by the Clerk of the National Assembly that the sitting which was scheduled for today, has been postponed to a date to be fixed.”

Jagdeo expressed shock at the postponement of the sitting.

“We are definitely surprised and they had to know they would not be here long before now that they could have done the courteous thing and inform us so our Members of Parliament would not have to come here and wait on them.”

While he stopped short of saying that the Government is afraid of the motion, he noted that if they were not, they should have turned up to “dismiss it.”

Opposition Chief Whip Gail Teixeira said the sitting should have been convened and the Speaker should have presented the MPs with an explanation for the postponement.

The PPP/C’s No-Confidence motion is premised on the Government’s actions which led to the loss of thousands of jobs in the sugar industry, increase in taxes, increase in the cost of living and allegations of corruption in the Health and Infrastructure sectors.

The Opposition is contesting that the allegations levelled against the APNU+AFC Government are worse than those included in a no-confidence motion brought against the PPP/C administration in 2014.

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