Dec 31, 2018 News
The passage of the no confidence motion against the Government in the National Assembly cannot be overturned by the Speaker, Dr. Barton Scotland.
This is the view shared by former Speaker, Ralph Ramkarran, in an interview with Kaieteur News on the move by Government to seek to have the decision on the motion overturned through the National Assembly.
“A decision has been taken by the National Assembly; the Speaker did not make a decision. The National Assembly did and that decision was announced by the Speaker. The speaker can’t change that decision,” Ramkarran stated.
On December 21, then Alliance For Change (AFC) Member of Parliament, Charrandass Persaud, voted with the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) on the no confidence motion, a move that forced the collapse of the Coalition Government and early General Elections.
Persaud’s vote gave the PPP/C a 33-32 majority at the end of a fiery debate and a tense voting process.
Government had initially accepted the decision, but days later, wrote to Dr. Scotland, pointing out that 34 votes were needed to pass the Motion brought by Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo.
However, Ramkarran noted that there is no procedure or method available to the Speaker to reverse the decision once made by the National Assembly.
“If I were the Speaker, I would rule that the National Assembly has made a decision. That decision was announced to be carried by me as Speaker. That decision is now a resolution of the National Assembly and that resolution was conveyed to the political parties. It is a decision that is made. It can’t be change,” Ramkarran contended.
He pointed out that the National Assembly has to change that decision and using the Government’s contention, such a move will require 34 votes to overturn the Motion.
Under the Constitution, the Cabinet including the President shall resign if the Government is defeated by the vote of a majority of all the elected members of the National Assembly on a vote of confidence.
Further, the Constitution states that notwithstanding its defeat, the Government shall remain in office and shall hold an election within three months
Ramkarran explained that the Government can go to the court to challenge the decision of the National Assembly.
“The decision is valid and cannot be reversed and the consequences of the decision should flow, which is the Government should resign, but that does not stop them from going to the court and asking the court to reverse the decision. That as far as I see is the way out,” Ramkarran noted.
He called the Government’s contention ‘a cheap trick’ questioning why the 34 figure should relate only to a no confidence motion.
Ramkarran noted that people have forgotten the argument on what is a majority.
He pointed out that since 2011, the 65-member Parliament has adopted 33 as the majority.
According to Ramkarran, there is nothing to support the Government’s contention, which is to divide the 65 in half, which is 32.5, add one to make it 33.5 and then round up to 34 to mean the majority.
“There is nothing in the Constitution that indicates that this mathematical calculation is part of the way to determine what the majority is. It just uses the word majority and majority means one more,” Ramkarran stated.
The former Speaker stated that ‘one more’ was the basis of what the members of the National Assembly believed in when they used the word majority.
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