Mr. Ramotar had no intention of facing an election before his five-year tenure was up. The reason – he simply wanted his five years. Mr. Ramotar loves the travels, ceremonies, and symbolism. He wanted these inconsequential fantasies to last for five years. Any analyst studying Ramotar’s total presidential deportment could detect the infatuation with the lighter side of power.
Personally, I don’t think Ramotar works hard. He doesn’t give any strong indication that he works hard. In all fairness, Bharrat Jagdeo was a workaholic. The difference between Ramotar and Jagdeo (forthcoming column on the comparison) is that Ramotar is not serious about the complications, burdens, demands and pressures of the presidency. He is happy to leave that to others he feels are more capable. Mr. Jagdeo was obsessed with the presidency and the power it gave him.
In his wisdom to ignore the no-confidence vote, Ramotar took the decision to go with the constitutional court which bizarrely is headed not only by one judge but the same judge; the position does not rotate. Only Carl Greenidge and this columnist in this entire country have publicly voiced a disapproving position on that.
Mr. Ramotar believed that given the historical slowness of the courts, the final ruling would be arrived at around the time that his tenure was up, so he would have defeated the no-confidence motion. No doubt the extreme slowness of the constitutional court to pronounce on the final decision on budget cuts was taken into consideration by the President.
What threw a monkey wrench in the works was the position of the combined opposition, that it would not reply to affidavits filed in the courts to defeat the no-confidence motion. The opposition knew that the final judgement would have come in the next billion years and that anyway, to contest in court is to concede that the judiciary has total control of Parliament, which is not the case in Guyana.
Mr. Ramotar found himself in a quandary. Advice came his way that it would be best to preempt the opposition by stopping Parliament from meeting to table the no-confidence motion. Dissolution was not an option since the intention is to stretch his rule until the time when his five years are up. Ramotar settled for prorogation.
Prorogation was like killing two birds with one stone. The no-confidence vote dies thus no election in three months’ time. And he has more than a year to play with since he can resuscitate the House in six months’ time. If the opposition re-tables the no-confidence motion, he can then dissolve the House and hold elections in four months’ time.
It means that from an election in March 2015 due to a successful no-confidence motion in November 2014, Ramotar may face an election at the end of 2015. It will cut short his tenure by a year, but at least he got almost a year more in office, because had the no-confidence proceeded in November 2014, he would have had to face the electorate three months later. But Ramotar may still get his 2016 date with the electorate.
The House has to pass the Budget in April. Ramotar knows that he has a vital card left to play. His advisors are going to invent a generous Budget then Ramotar will recall the House. If the House votes against the Budget, he will prorogue the House again and cry to the people of Guyana that the opposition ruined one of the most saccharine budgets in Guyana’s history. He prorogues the House again, takes another six months, then dissolves Parliament and calls elections four months later. We are talking about the year 2016.
This is my opinion of Ramotar’s reason for prorogation. Some questions need to be confronted. First, Ramotar is uncertain about his selection (not election). Ramotar’s main champion for his continuation is Bharrat Jagdeo. Jagdeo’s preferred choice is his nephew-in-law, Robert Persaud, but Jagdeo knows that there will be a ferocious fight that he may lose. He doesn’t want to gamble with Persaud, so he will fight for Ramotar. A Ramotar presidency is a Jagdeo presidency.
Secondly, many in the PPP leadership believe that the PPP will either win back the presidency or plurality again, but whichever, the PPP candidate will be the President and they want it. But they are uncertain of either one of these two victories with Ramotar as the candidate, so they are going to do battle with both Ramotar and Jagdeo.
Thirdly, where do these permutations leave the PNC and AFC? Street protest seems to be out of the question. Both PNC and AFC feel that the PPP is mortally wounded and will lose at the next election. I hope so.
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