Despite previous announcements—by Head of the Presidential, Dr. Roger Luncheon—that President Donald Ramotar would have dissolved Parliament at least by February 9, Parliament remains prorogued.
When contacted last evening, President Ramotar acknowledged that Dr. Luncheon “may have” made this announcement, but noted that what Luncheon said obviously did not materialize.
The President is now giving himself up to month end to dissolve the Parliament he prorogued three months ago. He told this publication that he will surely dissolve Parliament before the end of this month, in keeping with the specified period to ensure that elections are held on May 11.
Ramotar however did not commit to a specific date, neither did he say why he made the decision to delay dissolution.
Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall was quoted in sections of the media as saying that Parliament could not be dissolved before February 12, and that the Constitution allows for it to be done within three months of Election Day.
He said consideration has to be given to Nomination Day, which is not later than 32 days before polling day.
Since President Ramotar announced that Guyanese will head to the polls on May 11, there has been criticism of his decision not to dissolve the National Assembly immediately after, or on the same day as he announced the date for General and Regional Elections.
The Guyana Human Rights Association (GHRA) had said that the non-dissolution of Parliament widened the gap on any possible agreement by the National Assembly on disapproved major projects like the Amaila Falls Hydro Power Project.
The human rights body had also called on the President to either dissolve Parliament at the earliest opportunity or adjust the election date to conform to the constitutional provision of three months.
According to Guyana’s Constitution, elections must be held within three months of the dissolution of Parliament. Given the May 11 election date, logically the date for the dissolution of Parliament is either February 10 or 11.
Former Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) judge, Professor Duke Pollard has already said that the election date announced by President Donald Ramotar was not valid because Article 61 of Guyana’s Constitution requires the appointment of the election date by the President by proclamation – “that is an appropriate gazettable instrument in writing.”
Pollard added that Article 61 further requires that the appointment of an election date has to be made only after the dissolution of Parliament and not before nor during its prorogation.
Ramotar prorogued the Parliament on November 10, the very day that that National Assembly was set to debate a No-Confidence Motion that was brought against the government by the Alliance For Change (AFC).
The parliamentary opposition of the AFC and A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) controlled the National Assembly with its combined one-seat majority. APNU had publicly declared that it had all intentions to support the Motion.
If Ramotar had allowed the Motion to be debated and passed, he and his entire cabinet would have been forced to resign and elections would have had to been held within three months. In that case, elections would have been held by yesterday at the latest. But in a move, critics say, Ramotar made to buy time, the President decided to go the prorogation route.
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