Speaker upholds No Confidence vote

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Speaker of the National Assembly Dr Barton Scotland Thursday afternoon declined to reverse the December 21, 2018 vote of No Confidence against the Government and urged talks between the Government and the Opposition to settle the matters which have been raised.

In doing so, he said a resort to the Courts would be best to address the issues that have been raised following the historic vote which toppled the Government.

He quoted Article 106 (7) of the Constitution which dictates that elections be held in three months, and after the swearing of a new president, the present Government shall resign.

President David Granger returned to Guyana Tuesday evening from his third round of chemotherapy treatment in Cuba and his office is working to set up a meeting with Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo.

The Speaker said the issues raised by the Government require urgent attention and “certain and finite” answers” which should be obtained.

He said that authority which he is clothed with allows him to revisit and reverse any matter but that his actions must be done in accordance with the constitution since he would need “compelling grounds.”

As such, he said there is need to look “outside of Parliament” to find answers.

The day after the vote, the President’s office acknowledged the “passing” of the vote and the President said he was “anxious” to meet Jagdeo and to work even more closely with the Opposition.”

The Speaker has noted that no discussions have taken place as yet and he urged that these be held.

After a robust debate, 33 members voted in favour of a motion that the National Assembly has no confidence in the Government; 32 voted against.

At the end of the vote, the Speaker declared that the motion had been “carried” or approved.

The Government has argued that the Speaker can “reconsider” the resolution in which he declared that the No-Confidence vote had been approved.

The Government is contending that there was a miscalculation of the votes. In a mathematical calculation, Attorney General, Basil Williams argued that the half of the 65-seat legislature would be 32.5 and when rounded, half would be equal to 33 and so one more was needed to pass the motion.

In arguing his case, the Attorney General said there is established Parliamentary precedent and practice and case law in the Commonwealth.

With the Speaker declining the Attorney General’s request to reverse the decision, the Government will head to the Court to settle the issue and has assembled a team of local and overseas lawyers to do so.

In the motion brought by Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo, the Opposition secured the 33rd vote it said was needed to force the Government out of office early when Government Parliamentarian Charrandass Persaud defected and voted with the Opposition.

The Government is also challenging the vote on the grounds that Persaud is disqualified to be an elected member of the National Assembly because he is a citizen both of Guyana and Canada.

In his New Year’s Day message, the President again repeated that the Government would abide by the Constitution, but he included a reference to the courts, saying it is the court which protects institutions and the system of democracy.

The President, however, maintained the importance of dialogue to settle the issues.

“Recent developments in the National Assembly have created opportunities for enhanced political cooperation.

“Meetings between the Government and Opposition will take place in the new year to discuss and determine the way forward for our country,” the President stated.

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