Feb 28, 2013 News Comments Off on Lifted Rohee gag… Action was constitutionally just and right – Trotman
Speaker of the National Assembly, Raphael Trotman, is satisfied that in permitting Home Affairs Minister Clement Rohee to have his say in the House of Parliament, he did what was constitutionally right against what may be politically correct.
The Speaker said, “I have satisfied myself that I have done what is constitutionally correct. I took an oath to uphold the constitution of Guyana and not to subvert it. It may be considered the politically incorrect thing to do,” but Trotman said that he acknowledged that he may be committing political suicide. “And I understood that, but I prefer to know that I did what was constitutionally just and correct as against what is politically correct.”
The Speaker charged that having had the benefit of research, advice, legal opinion and considering the ruling of the Chief Justice, “I thought I could not rightfully continue to keep a restraint,” on the Minister. According to the Speaker, he had taken it on himself in that, while the second motion against Rohee was pending, he would restrain the Minister from speaking.
After seeking the relevant information on making a ruling, the Speaker said that he could no longer deny the Minister his constitutional right to speak.
Trotman said that he decided not to wait until the court end of the Rohee matter, because of the relevant research information in his grasp, and since the case seems to be going on indefinitely.
“I felt personally as Speaker that it would be an injustice for me to continue.” The Speaker reiterated that he had taken it up upon himself to have Rohee not speak because he was unsure. He said that he was not invited to stop the Minister; he took the decision personally so that he could satisfy himself that the “decision could hold no longer.”
If the court rules otherwise in relation to the Rohee matter, Trotman said, “So be it. In my view the court made a ruling and an opinion on January 11, so I don’t think the court would change that opinion which has already been granted.”
What Trotman said he is concerned about “Is whether or not the court has jurisdiction to continue to tell the Parliament what to do. I don’t believe that it does; but in terms of what the court’s opinion was on the right of a Minister to speak, I believe that opinion was given already.”
Last Friday, Speaker Trotman ruled that the continuation of a restraint on Rohee to speak, and to present Bills, Motions, and Questions, will constitute a “serious derogation” of his rights – both as a Member of the National Assembly and as a Minister of Government— hence the ‘gag order’ against Rohee was lifted.
Last year the Home Affairs Minister, after a series of security fall outs, attracted a no confidence motion from opposition members in the National Assembly. A motion by APNU Leader, David Granger, and supported by the AFC, was tabled that Rohee should not speak on any matter relating to his Ministry.
In registering firmly their grounds, the opposition after much debate, staged walkouts, premature adjournments of sittings, and court action. The matter was later sent to a Privileges Committee before the Speaker finally ruled; concluding the Rohee saga.
While the Alliance for Change (AFC) has decided to respect the wishes of the Speaker, A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) has expressed disappointment at the ruling. At a press meeting Tuesday, Basil Williams, APNU’s Shadow Minister of Legal Affairs dubbed the Speaker’s actions as “unprecedented and undemocratic,” and does not bode well for the future conduct of the “people’s business” in the National Assembly.
Williams said that the “Speaker’s ruling was premature, and pre-empted the imminent decision of the Honourable Chief Justice, Mr. Ian Chang, in the matter of AG –v- David Granger and Raphael Trotman CM No. 94 of 2012, and the Committee of Privileges, to which the matter was sent.
APNU also pronounced that the Speaker’s “ruling can be impugned on its legal soundness and factual inaccuracies,” because of the “mistaken belief that Chief Justice Chang” had ruled in favour of the Minister.
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