Speaker cannot review No-Confidence vote – Nandlall
By Bibi Khatoon
Having delivered his ruling on the No-Confidence motion brought against the Government on Friday last, the Speaker of the National Assembly
“There is no avenue to review the verdict of a No-Confidence Motion (by) the Speaker. That is not an option available,” says People’s Progressive Party’s Member of Parliament and former Attorney General and, Anil Nandlall.
He was at the time responding to claims that the A Partnership for National Unity +Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) Government can ask for a review of the confidence vote when the National Assembly reconvenes on January 3, 2019.
Speaking during an interview with the News Room at his South Road, Georgetown office on Thursday, Nandlall pointed out that the Speaker is “powerless” after the tabulation of the votes, the announcement that the motion was carried and the issuance of the resolution by the Clerk of the National Assembly, Sherlock Isaacs.”
Prime Minister, Moses Nagamootoo by way of a speech and President David Granger by way of a statement have also accepted the ruling along with other Government Ministers, he pointed out.
Talk of a review stemmed from public comments made by Attorney-At-Law, Nigel Hughes who is arguing that the Opposition needed 34 instead of 33 votes to defeat the Government.
He said half of the Assembly is 32.5 but due to the inability to capture a half vote, half of the Assembly is now 34.
Nandlall also rubbished Hughes’ claim, one which he said was brought to him in 2014 when his Administration under the Presidency of Donald Ramotar was faced with a similar motion.
He deemed it a deliberate refusal by the Government to accept its fate.
” I rejected it,” he said.
Nandlall, who was the AG at that time, said he advised the former President to “either go to the Parliament and you will be defeated by 33 votes against your 32, suffer the humiliation of a No-confidence vote and then go to the elections or go to the elections straight away by proroguing the parliament and subsequently dissolving it.”
“That was my treatment of it then and I have not changed my view now,” he asserted.
At that time, the PPP Government held a one-seat minority in the National Assembly with the AFC and APNU claiming the remaining 33 seats. Those two parties formed a coalition in 2015 and was elected to office.
The former AG said the argument has no merit, whether it is looked at on a common-sense basis or on a legal basis.
“If 33 is not a majority of 65, it means they could not have formed the Government in the first place, it means that none of the legislation which they passed could have been passed. It means that none of the Budgets which they passed could have been passed,” he argued.
According to the Constitution, the Cabinet, including the President, shall resign if the Government is defeated by the vote of “a majority” of all elected members of the National Assembly on a vote of confidence.
However, it does not define “majority”.
Nandlall told the News Room that a legal challenge can be put forward but “we hope that the judiciary will not entertain this kind of frivolous, vexatious argument in order to defeat the clear provisions of the constitution.”
The Government he said, should instead focus on preparing for General and Regional elections.
“The priority of this Government should be to prepare the country for elections rather than engaging in time-wasting and anti-democratic activities and engagements.”
On Monday, the Government announced that it has established a sub-committee to “advise on the matter.”
The Committee is expected to examine all legal and constitutional aspects of the vote and report to Cabinet.