-eyes round-table meeting as possible answer to deadlock
-Joint Opposition eyes ‘common grounds’
The ruling People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) administration is reluctant to call snap elections to resolve a hung Parliament, following the November 28 elections. Yesterday, Cabinet Secretary Dr Roger Luncheon, described snap elections as a last resort.
The party is now gearing for a series of what it calls “tripartite meetings” to break the deadlock in which it will be involved in talks with the opposition parties over critical issues like the Speaker, cooperation and other collaboration.
The statement from Head of the Presidential Secretariat, Dr. Roger Luncheon, came mere hours before one from the Joint Opposition announcing that it has met to explore areas of cooperation and does not rule out working with the government.
Despite meetings separately between newly sworn-in President Donald Ramotar and the Alliance For Change and the A Partnership For National Unity (APNU) earlier this week, there is no immediate consensus on critical issues like a Speaker for the National Assembly, with the opposition parties turning down an initial proposal to have Ralph Ramkarran return to that position.
The PPP/C would want cooperation from the opposition to pass critical bills and the National Budget which is due in a few weeks.
Dr Luncheon, during his first post-Cabinet media briefing under the Ramotar-led administration, while expressing reluctance to entertain questions into possible early elections being called to resolve the issue facing PPP/C over the minority Parliament, admitted that it is one of many “possible outcomes that cannot be excluded.”
The Cabinet Secretary, who was present in meetings between Ramotar and the opposition parties, felt that Guyanese deserve better than having to face another election…a conviction that was shared by the opposition parties and the PPP/C alike.
“I don’t believe that (calling) snap elections is very consistent with the conviction that Guyanese deserve better.”
The talks will examine critical issues like the Speaker, cooperation and other collaboration.
The PPP/C lost control of Parliament for the first time since taking power since 1992 garnering just 48.6 per cent, enough to secure the Presidency but below the 51 per cent needed to control Parliament.
PPP/C was allotted 32 seats, APNU 26 and the AFC, seven which meant that the combined opposition has more voting power in the National Assembly, a worrisome factor for the PPP/C.
According to the Joint Opposition statement from APNU and AFC, representatives of the two parties met on Thursday, to begin discussions on a framework of cooperation in the National Assembly where the parties together hold the majority.
“This is the first time in Guyana’s history that the opposition holds the majority in the Parliament, opening up the possibility of shaping a new political landscape,” the statement said.
Regarding the installation of the new Government headed by President Ramotar, the Joint Opposition stressed that it is committed to representing the interests of all Guyanese regardless of race, creed or political affiliation.
“The grouping is committed to finding common ground and putting Guyana first.”
The team that met Thursday included APNU’s Presidential Candidate, David Granger; Prime Ministerial Candidate, Dr. Rupert Roopnaraine; Campaign Manager Joe Harmon and Leadership Council Member Basil Williams; AFC’s Presidential Candidate Khemraj Ramjattan; Prime Ministerial Candidate, Raphael Trotman; Executive Member Cathy Hughes; Dr. Richard Van West Charles and Clayton Hall.
“In a cordial atmosphere the parties’ representatives discussed the process and options for the selection of the Speaker of the House, the reconfiguration of a range of Parliamentary Committees and reaffirmed their commitment to a progressive Parliamentary Agenda that would impact positively on the lives of all Guyanese.”
The meeting was adjourned after two hours of deliberations with a “firm commitment to finalise discussions on the issues identified at a follow up meeting slated for early next week,” the Joint Opposition said.
According to Dr. Luncheon yesterday, the PPP/C is eagerly looking forward to return to Parliament, a forum that can be used to fulfill the party’s campaign promises.
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