Head of State, Donald Ramotar, addressed what he said were the misconceptions that have infiltrated the political
atmosphere as it relates to his most unprecedented decision – prorogation of the Parliament.
At a press conference, yesterday, he contracted the political opposition’s published belief that the citizenry is angry with his decision.
Ramotar said that based on his discussions with stakeholders, particularly within civil society, he “got the feeling” that they are pleased with his judgment.
He said too, that the political opposition seemed surprised that he prorogued the House. He said that as early as November 4, last, he made his options known.
He said that on November 10, last, before he finally decided to prorogue, he had three options before him; the first being to allow the debate over the No-Confidence Motion to occur.
He said that he felt the government would have won the debate hands down with its logical and irrefutable arguments. But it would have lost the vote to the political opposition which holds the majority in the National Assembly.
This would have resulted in the end of the Tenth Parliament and fresh general elections.
The second option, he said, was the dissolution of the Parliament. This, too, Ramotar said, would have resulted in national elections.
As for the option of prorogation, Ramotar said that he found this to be the option which offered a possibility for the opposition and the government to meet and discuss matters of importance.
He then said that some very important Bills are before the House. These will also suffer some delay in light of the suspension.
The President said that one of the Bills, the Anti Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism Bill, is still to be passed. The result is that blacklisting “hangs over (Guyana) like a sword of Damocles”.
He said that he found the political opposition to be unreasonable when it asked him to set a date for Local Government Elections, while a No-Confidence Motion was on the table as well. Ramotar said that he announced Local Government Elections in the second quarter of next year. He said that this was based on the timeline given to him by the Guyana Elections Commission.
GECOM notified him formally, that it would need six months to prepare for the Local Government Elections.
Since his move to prorogue the Parliament, Ramotar said that there seems to be some misconceptions.
He emphasized that he has acted legally and democratically in keeping with the Constitution. He said that the accusation that his decision has created a dictatorship “makes no sense.”
“It does not give me a new power that will turn me into a dictator. I have no new power. I cannot rule by decree. I cannot pass laws by myself. If I could have done that, I would have passed all these Bills already which I think are so important, but I cannot…”
He then addressed the accusation leveled against him that his decision was done to “spend money as the government likes.” He deemed this “utter nonsense.”
The Constitution, he said, dictates how the government spends money. He said that he cannot spend money as he likes or as the government would like. “I cannot do these things outside the law.”
He claimed that the government continues to be accountable.
Ramotar said that he is now working on his own negotiation team to engage the Opposition within days for dialogue.
He said that the Opposition has already signaled that it is not interested in talks. The President said that he will interpret such utterances as being “its first position” and would say that hopefully, when the emotions have been removed, good sense and maturity would prevail.
He said that he has no intention to reconvene the Parliament and proroguing it once more. He said that the prorogation has a period that can last up to six months.
He hopes that before that period is over, there can be compromise and talks, if not, there will be general elections.
The prorogation of the parliament offers an important possibility; if there is a move for elections.
He said that many people have not been able to have their “documents to get registered on the electoral role.”
Ramotar said that he saw more advantages in proroguing the Parliament as opposed to dissolving or facing the No-Confidence Motion.
Commenting on to the unassented Local Government Bills, Ramotar said that there is nothing in those to prevent Local Government Elections. He said that those Bills signed are adequate enough to hold elections.
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The chartered accountant, Mr. Nigel Hinds, who is a well known letter-writer to this newspaper had a missive published... more
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