Dec 31, 2018 News
…Ramjattan says it needs 34 votes to be valid
A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance for Change (APNU+ AFC) administration has announced its decision to challenge the passing of the no-confidence vote against it, citing that 33 votes do not constitute a Parliamentary majority.
In an interview with the National Communications Network, yesterday, Minister of Public Security, Khemraj Ramjattan, said that 34 votes are needed in the National Assembly for the no-confidence motion to be carried.
“We feel, not withstanding what happened on the 21st [of December], that the numbers of persons who will constitute that threshold of elected parliamentarians is 34, and not 33,” Ramjattan stated.
This is a departure from the government’s initial decision, which was to accept the outcome of the vote.
The Public Security Minister said that the government has adjusted its position on the matter because cabinet “sought some legal advice”. He said that they also went back to the text of the constitution: “We also got a number of authorities that compute this special arrangement that can bring down a democracy; a no-confidence motion.”
“There initially was a sentiment that it was 33, but after we were blindsided by the immoral act of Mr. Charrandass, we all got betrayed by him when he voted yes. In view of what happened on the 21st, when the Speaker of the House indicated that he is going to adjourn Parliament to deal with the consequences, we have decided that we are going to argue the case that it has not been a threshold figure that was arrived at,” Ramjattan stated.
“Therein, we found that it was indeed the calculation, mathematical and juridical, is that it must be half the number of elected members plus one. And if it leads to a fraction, that fraction must be upended toward another whole figure.”
Explaining his mathematical interpretation of the vote, Ramjattan said half of 65, it is 32.5. That plus one is 33.5. Due to the 0.5, that must go into the next whole number, which brings it to 34.
“It is important that people just do not follow through as what is regarded as simplicity. The law is the law and that is why the constitution made an exception to Article 168 by having Article 168 drafted the way it is and also now, save and except this Article 106 (6),” Ramjattan stated.
Further, he said that, “once the threshold figure is arrived at and we are now arguing it is 34 as against 33, then Article 106 is triggered, meaning that the elections must be held within a 90-day period; however, we are saying that will have to now be determined by the Speaker because the internal arrangements of the House is headed by the Speaker and if the Speaker determines there is clearly a mistake in relation to computation of what the threshold level is and that could be corrected… we feel that is the way to go.”
Ramjattan said that the government will build its argument on certain precedents that were set as it relates to the passage of a no-confidence motion, come January 3, 2019 when parliament reconvenes.
In a statement, the government referred to the current public discourse surrounding the no-confidence motion, and said that there are statements that are not helpful “because there are forces at play who are seeking to subvert and railroad the democratic process.”
Ramjattan said that, although the President and Prime Minister declared that they would respect the integrity of the vote, they only did that because they felt that that was the best action to take at the time “based on the context of what took place.”
He said that this must be remedied because he does not want a miscalculation to subvert the Constitution.
The Minister was asked why a majority of 34 votes is only now relevant to the no-confidence vote, as opposed to other motions in the national assembly only needing 33 votes to be passed.
His response was that, “There is a distinction because there is an article in our constitution that says that bills and motions can be passed save and except otherwise provided, by a simple majority of those present and voting… a confidence or no-confidence motion is a different motion above all else as the constitution made mention.”
The distinction Ramjattan referred to is the one between Article 168 (1) and 106 (6) of the Constitution, which states “Save as otherwise provided by this Constitution, all questions proposed for decision in the National Assembly shall be determined by a majority of votes of the members present and voting” and “the Cabinet including the President shall resign if the government is defeated by the vote of a majority of all elected members of the National Assembly on a vote of confidence” respectively.
The government further released a statement, which reads that “Until and unless fresh elections are held, the Government remains in full control of the governance apparatus of the state and will continue to carry out its mandate according to its Constitutional requirement.
This is despite demands by Leader of the Opposition, Bharrat Jagdeo, for the government to resign immediately.
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