…sittings cannot be bound by the whims of the Executive – Trotman
The brouhaha surrounding the first sitting of the National Assembly since it emerged out of recess on October 10, last,
continues to escalate this time with the Speaker, Raphael Trotman and Clerk, Sherlock Isaacs, at loggerheads over whose power it is to reconvene.
Trotman recently publicized his decision to have the House reconvene next week Thursday but the Clerk has voiced his consternation over the move by Trotman, saying that he was acting outside of his jurisdiction.
Trotman, in a statement to the media yesterday said that it is “not for the first time in the 48-year history of the National Assembly, the Speaker and the Clerk are at odds over the power of the Speaker to convene the sittings of the National Assembly.”
According to Trotman, he was yesterday formally notified by the Clerk of the National Assembly, that after consideration, his request for the National Assembly to be convened on Thursday, November 6, 2014, cannot be given effect to by him because he is of the view that the Speaker lacks the authority to convene sittings of National Assembly under Standing Order 8 (1) and (2).
“I will be writing to the Clerk to register my disagreement with his interpretation of the Standing Orders and his consequent position adopted…I will also so advise, in writing, as well as to the Leaders of the political parties in the House.”
According to Trotman, “This is a most unfortunate position arrived at, and obviously arises out of a very narrow interpretation of the Standing Orders, and of the prevailing circumstances whereby the National Assembly entered into recess and has emerged from that recess, and a majority of Members desire to meet.”
Trotman is adamant the National Assembly must resume sittings and cannot be bound by the whims of the Executive branch to have to await its consent before meeting.
“Such an interpretation flies in the face of the doctrine of separation of powers, and the constitutional right of the elected representatives to meet to perform their functions.”
According to Trotman, the roles of Speaker and Clerk of the National Assembly are regulated by the Constitution and the Standing Orders.
He noted that as constitutional officers, both are expected to work symbiotically for the National Assembly to be able to properly discharge its constitutional roles and functions.
“It is the duty of the Clerk to convene the sitting by making all arrangements including, summoning and ensuring the attendance of Members, and the preparation and circulation of the Order Paper…The Speaker performs the role of Presiding Officer once the Assembly is convened; whilst the function of convening National Assembly remains the sole preserve of the Clerk.”
According to Trotman, the effect of the Clerk’s decision not to convene the sitting has the effect of crippling the ability of the Members of Parliament to meet.
“This in itself brings the Constitution into derision and disregard and cannot be what the framers of our Constitution intended.”
He said too that as a majority of Members have indicated their desire for the National Assembly to meet, the nation is confronted with a clear and unvarnished constitutional crisis that all stakeholders will have to work together to resolve it.
“As the sitting Speaker I invite all well thinking Guyanese to join me in examining all viable options and avenues to break the impasse in the interest of our beloved nation…In this regard I stand ready to entertain all reasonable suggestions and anticipate an early closure of this unfortunate development.”
In recent weeks there has been much debate over whose right it is to convene the sitting of the National Assembly with all and sundry adopting differing positions.
The Alliance For Change (AFC) has tabled the historic ‘Confidence Motion,’ against the Government, which if approved by the majority of the House, will trigger general elections within a 90-day period, while the current administration remains as a caretaker government only.
A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) which controls the largest single opposition voting bloc has signaled its intention to support the AFC motion.
Both opposition parties have also decried the position of the government on the matter saying that it has been stalling the resumption of the House out of fear of the passage of the ‘No Confidence Motion.’
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