– AFC / APNU meet to concretize position
The Order Paper for the National Assembly, which sets out the order of business to be discussed during the sitting,
was officially released yesterday and the Alliance For Change (AFC) sponsored No-Confidence Motion is certainly a part of it.
This was confirmed by the Clerk of the National Assembly, Sherlock Isaacs. He said that he was contacted by Prime Minister, Sam Hinds via a telephone call who indicated to him that the government was interested in having the first sitting on Monday, November 10.
The Clerk said that he then proceeded to send out the Order Paper to all Members of Parliament.
President Donald Ramotar had indicated during his address to the nation on Tuesday that if the political opposition were to forge ahead with the unprecedented No-Confidence Motion in an attempt to disrupt the government’s business, he would dissolve the Parliament by calling snap general elections.
While the President held this position, the members of the Alliance For Change (AFC) and the A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) after its meeting yesterday, confirmed that they are eager for the sitting.
The Parliamentary opposition parties met at the Office of the Leader of the Opposition, on Hadfield Street, Georgetown. The parties used the opportunity to concretize their position on the ‘No Confidence Motion’.
The APNU team included Leader of the Opposition David Granger, Shadow Minister of the Environment, Dr. Rupert Roopnarine, Shadow Minister of Legal Affairs, Basil Williams, Opposition Whip Amna Ally, Shadow Finance Minister, Carl Greenidge and APNU General Secretary, Joseph Harmon.
Representing the AFC were its Leader Khemraj Ramjattan, Vice Chairman, Moses Nagamootoo, Executive Member, Cathy Hughes, and General Secretary, David Patterson. The parties are expected to continue their discussions on Friday.
The political opposition has the option however to suspend the Standing Orders which would facilitate an early debate of the No-Confidence Motion.
Due to what appeared to be a breakdown in communication yesterday between House Speaker, Raphael Trotman and Isaacs, the Speaker issued a statement to the media stating that the President can only reconvene the National Assembly in certain circumstances.
Without the benefit of a salient update; the fact that the due process for the reconvening of Parliament was adhered to, Trotman said that the President, as Head of State and the Executive has the power under Articles 69 and 70 to convene the National Assembly on only one of two bases; following a general election; or a prorogation of the Parliament.
Trotman stated, “On January 9, 2012, His Excellency issued the required Proclamation to convene the first sitting of the 10th Parliament. That sitting was held on January 12, 2012, and thereafter, our work commenced. There has been no prorogation or suspension of the current session.
In fact, the practice and tradition is for there to be one continuous session of Parliament without interruption until dissolution for elections. On the contrary, what has not been the practice and tradition is for the President to announce when the House will resume sittings after the annual recess.”
He noted as well that the annual recess that runs from August 10 to October 10 is not to be confused with a prorogation or suspension of the Parliament.
“Therefore, as Speaker of the National Assembly I continue to insist that it was beyond the scope of the President’s constitutional authority to set a date for the House to resume sittings after the recess. The President is not a member of the National Assembly and so any pronouncements on the sittings should have been issued and articulated by the Hon. Prime Minister. He is supposed to be the Leader of Government’s business in the House,” The House Speaker insisted.
Further, Trotman categorically stated that the very manner of the President’s announcement that the date of the “first post- recess sitting” will be November 10, clearly demonstrates he was wrongfully advised into believing that the National Assembly is subordinate to the Executive, and can dictate to it when it can meet and cannot meet, and even what it should discuss and debate.
Trotman said that this is as frightening as it is tragic as it clearly demonstrates that there is not even the basic of understanding, by those who advise the President, of the three branches of Government – Executive, Legislative and Judicial, and the hallowed doctrine of the separation of powers.
Trotman later stated that once the members of the National Assembly are prepared to meet, he will be ready to preside over the proceedings. (Kiana Wilburg)
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