President, Cabinet will not be resigning- Harmon
President David Granger and his Cabinet will not be resigning according to Director General at the Ministry of the Presidency, Joseph Harmon.
Speaking at a post-cabinet press briefing on Wednesday, Harmon said this decision was communicated to Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo who on July 20 wrote a letter to the President asking for him and the Cabinet to resign “forthwith.”
Harmon said advice was sought from Attorney General, Basil Williams who is the Government’s principal legal advisor.
“In general terms, what the information is…the President has advised the Leader of the Opposition that he nor his Cabinet will not be resigning and that the Constitution provides for the President and Government to remain in office until the new Government and the new President is sworn in,” Harmon told the media.
The Opposition is relying on article 106 (6) of the Constitution of Guyana which states that the Cabinet, including the President, shall resign if the Government is defeated by a vote of No-Confidence.
However, the Government is relying on 106 (7) which states that “Notwithstanding its defeat, the Government shall remain in office to hold and election within three months,” or for a longer period supported by two-thirds of the national assembly.
Though the No-Confidence motion was deemed validly passed by Guyana’s final appellate court –the Caribbean Court of Justice –since June 18, the National Assembly has not met.
In its July 20 letter, the Opposition Leader also requested that the Head of State issue a proclamation to dissolve the 11th Parliament of Guyana and fix a date for the next General and Regional Elections to be held on a date which is not beyond September 18, 2019.
Parliament goes into recess from August 10 to October 10.
Asked on Wednesday whether the President will be dissolving Parliament before it goes into recess, Harmon said, “Whether in fact, the President will do anything as it relates to the Parliament will be determined by the issues which arise politically and which will be addressed and you’ll be told about that.”
According to Harmon, dissolving Parliament and setting a date for national elections hinges on advice to be received from the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) about its readiness to hold such elections.
GECOM is currently conducting House to House registration to create a new list of electors. That process is slated to be completed on October 20 but is being challenged in the High Court.
The CCJ in its June 18 ruling said the Government now functions in an interim capacity which the administration has accepted.
On Wednesday, the Director-General told the media that the Government understands the restrictions under which it functions.
He said over the past three weeks, Cabinet discussed the current state of the Government.
“By convention, the normal business of Government will continue, albeit on a different footing,” he said outlining that Government will not embark on new policy initiatives, programmes or major infrastructure projects.
Harmon said the Government will attend to matters which are considered urgent and in the public’s interest but if a decision is to be made that will have an impact on the function of a new Government, “then it is necessary to meet with the opposition and determine whether these are steps which can be lawfully taken.”
The Constitution of Guyana does not define the roles and functions of an interim Government and as such, the administration has relied on guidelines used in other countries.