Gov’t hopes for Parliament to extend elections date – AG
Attorney General Basil Williams is optimistic that the Government will get two-thirds of the sitting members of the National Assembly to vote to extend the elections timeline and so extend the life of the Government.
“Let’s hope that good sense prevails,” he told the media at his Carmichael Street, Georgetown office on Tuesday.
He added that the Constitution does not limit the time period for which a Parliament can be extended.
“There is nothing in the Constitution that says when you go for the two-third extension, it has to be for another three months.
“That wouldn’t make sense. So there is no limit on the period of extension when you go back,” he told reporters.
The Attorney General said the extended period will provide time for the Government, Opposition and the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) to come to an agreement on a date for elections and other issues.
The Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo has made it clear that his party will not support an extension to elections date. Instead, the Opposition is pushing for elections by September 18.
Williams, responding to questions from the media, said if the support is not garnered, the decision rests solely with the President on when to issue a proclamation dissolving Parliament and name a date for elections.
“Fortunately for us [the Government] …if there is no two-thirds majority, it falls back on the President who happens to be the person who (has) the power to name and elections date and also to dissolve Parliament,” he noted.
Following the Caribbean Court of Justice’s (CCJ) ruling on June 18 which validated the No-Confidence motion, it was made clear that the constitutional provisions were then set into motion.
Article 106 (6) of the Constitution says that the Cabinet including the President shall resign on the passage of a No Confidence motion and that elections should be held in three months unless the National Assembly extends the timeline.
However, not only has the elections deadline not been extended, but the Cabinet has not resigned.
The Attorney General on Tuesday maintained that the provision for the Cabinet to resign is “absurd.”
He argued that “the Cabinet and the President remains until a new President is sworn in,” referring to Article 106 (7) of the Constitution of Guyana which states that ‘Notwithstanding its defeat, the Government shall remain in office and…shall resign after the President takes the oath of office following the election.”
“The country has to be governed and this is a country that has serious challenges and is a country that you cannot take your foot off of governance or you’ll be overrun,” he added.
The functions of the Cabinet and the Government are different.
According to the Constitution, Cabinet consists of the President, Prime Minister, the Vice-Presidents and such other Ministers as may be appointed to it by the President.
Further, it states that “the Cabinet shall aid and advise the President in the general direction and control of the Government of Guyana and shall be collectively responsible therefor to Parliament.”
The Government consists of the legislature, executive, and judiciary.
Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo at the weekend wrote a letter to President David Granger requesting that the President and Cabinet resign forthwith.