Gov’t failed to take No-Confidence motion seriously

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By Bibi Khatoon

Attorney-at-law and Former Chairman of the Alliance For Change (AFC), Nigel Hughes believes the Government dealt with the No-Confidence motion brought against it in an irrational manner.

Describing the Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo who filed the motion as “an extremely shrewd, successful politician,” Hughes declared that had he still been a member of the AFC, he would have taken the No-Confidence motion more seriously.

“There is no way Mr. Jagdeo is going to pick up a stone and tell me he is going to pelt me and I am going to wait until I get knock unconscious to say ‘oh my God, he had a stone,” Hughes told reporters Monday at his Hadfield Street, Georgetown office.

He said he would have been “a little paranoid” and “check myself and every single other member of my party sitting in Parliament.”

“If I were a political leader, I would assume that nobody is going to threaten to hurt me unless they really have the capacity.”

The Government was defeated in a No-Confidence vote in the National Assembly on Friday last after AFC Member of Parliament, Charrandass Persaud voted in favour of the motion.

The APNU+AFC Government was made aware of the motion as it was filed since November 15 and on several occasions declared that it was not afraid.

However, it seems that the Government, with its one-seat majority was not strong enough.

In fact, Prime Minister, Moses Nagamootoo in a Facebook post declared that the Government has had suspicions that one of its male MPs had been compromised, but it was unable to identify or recall him before the crucial debate.

Charrandas told the press that he exercised his right to make a “conscience vote,” and alluded to a number of things he had issues with, including the firing of thousands of sugar workers with the closure of three sugar estates, Minister Volda Lawrence’s comments at a political rally inciting racism, the approval of a pension bill for former Prime Minister, Hamilton Green and others.

But according to Hughes, these concerns are not new but none were addressed sufficiently.

“Whether you think Mr. Charrandas has betrayed or whether he voted his conscience is really secondary to the issues that he raised and those issues need to be addressed.

“I think we are spending an awful lot of emotive energy on whether what he did can be categorized to being unfair or betrayal, that to me is not the issue,” Hughes said.

Despite the Speaker’s ruling on the No-Confidence motion, Hughes also caused a stir at the weekend after he suggested that the Opposition needed more than one vote from the Government side for the motion to succeed.

Hughes argued that majority means 34 out of 65 seats in the National Assembly.

However, he said the principle only applies to a vote of confidence. He advised that the Government can approach the Speaker to have the process reviewed.

Asked why this was not said before, Hughes noted that he will not offer this advice for free.

The Constitution provides for a vote of No-Confidence to pass against the Government if there is a majority vote but the constitution does not define ‘majority.’

But PPP Parliamentarian and former Attorney General Anil Nandlall said this legal opinion is not new since the law does not define majority, therefore the usual 33-32 voting process should be adhered to for passage of any motion.

In a statement on Monday, the Government said it will be examining all legal opinions available and report to Cabinet on Thursday with recommendations on the way forward.

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