Almost three weeks after a no-confidence vote that rocked the country, a joint statement from the Government and Opposition has shown a sharp division on how parliament would function.
The statement yesterday would come after President David Granger led a team to a meeting with Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo, at the Ministry of the Presidency on Wednesday.
Along with the President were Prime Minister, Moses Nagamootoo; Vice President, Carl Greenidge; Vice President, Khemraj Ramjattan; Attorney General, Basil Williams; Minister of State; Joseph Harmon; Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman and Minister of Social Cohesion, Amna Ally.
For the Opposition team, Jagdeo was accompanied by Gail Teixeira; Anil Nandlall; Irfaan Ali; Juan Edghill; Dr. Frank Anthony; Pauline Sukhai and Odinga Lumumba.
On Wednesday, following the meeting, there were separate statements from both sides. There was a promise of a joint statement.
Yesterday, the joint statement made it clear that while Government and the Opposition were unified on the territorial integrity of the country, there were differences.
“The parties met in an atmosphere of cordiality and iterated their emphatic commitment to work on all and any matters relating to the preservation and protection of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Guyana; irrespective of any domestic political issues.”
The parties agreed to discuss an agenda proposed by the President. It included Constitutional and Legal situation; Functioning of the National Assembly; Functioning of the Government;
Public Services; Public Order and the Dissolution of Parliament.
Also up for discussion were General and Regional Elections, the Role of the National Assembly;
Operational readiness of GECOM; national registration and Public Information.
According to the Government and Opposition, “The parties recognized the high importance of continuous engagements between the Government and Opposition, the importance they hold for the national interest and the elevated public expectation.”
During the talks, Jagdeo insisted that the “no confidence motion” was validly passed and therefore there must be compliance with Articles 106 (6) and 106 (7) of the Constitution.
He further stated that the timeframes prescribed by the two provisions of the Constitution must be rigidly observed, notwithstanding the pendency of the legal proceedings filed; and that Parliament must be dissolved unless otherwise agreed upon in accordance with Article 106 (7) of the Constitution.
“Further, the Leader of the Opposition contended that while the Government remains in office in accordance with Articles 106(7) of the Constitution, its functions must be confined to the provision of essential services of the State and to matters in relation to preparation for General and Regional elections.”
In addition, the Leader of the Opposition emphasized that the National Assembly should only meet to deal with issues connected with the provision of essential services by the State and all matters related to the preparation of General and Regional elections.
On the other hand, President Granger emphasized that the Government is legal and that it must govern without any limitations on its authority.
“His Excellency further stated that there is no provision in the Constitution which imposes limitation on the Government to perform its lawful functions. The President indicated that the Government and the Opposition, by agreement in the National Assembly, can enlarge the time beyond the 90 days contemplated by Article 106 (7) of the Constitution.”
According to the joint statement, the President further stated that it is lawful for the Government to engage the Court, to bring clarity to the provisions of Article 106 (6) and 106 (7) of the Constitution.
“Pending the conclusion of the legal proceedings, Parliament remains functional. Both sides are committed to work towards the expeditious conclusion of the matters engaging the attention of the court.
“The parties identified Ms. Amna Ally and Ms. Gail Teixeira to enquire into the readiness of GECOM. Both parties expressed their willingness to meet to ensure the management of the various issues facing the nation.”
On December 21, last, Government MP, Charrandass Persaud, joined with the Opposition in voting yes on a no-confidence motion brought by Jagdeo against the three and half-year-old government.
The vote was deemed carried by the Speaker but Government went to court questioning the validity of it.
Persaud who was expelled by his party, the Alliance For Change flew out of Guyana the same night and was accused by officials of taking a bribe for his vote.
The police are said to be investigating.
Under the Constitution, elections have to be called within three months and the government has to resign.
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