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House Speaker orders Clerk to convene sitting

Flash back: The National Assembly in session

Guyana’s House Speaker, Raphael Trotman has intervened in a bid to break an impasse between government and the opposition over the convening of the National Assembly for the first time in more than two months.

In letters to the Prime Minister, Opposition Leader and the Leader of the Alliance For Change; Mr Trotman says he has instructed the Clerk to convene a sitting on November 6 because the Chief Government and Opposition Whips have failed to reach an agreement on a date.

The Speaker told the Clerk in an October 27 letter that the gridlock is untenable and unhealthy because the Assembly has not met since July 10. Mr Trotman says the failure of the Assembly to meet cannot continue any longer because there is no national emergency. Instead, he says there are several issues that require the attention of law-makers.

If the Speaker gets his way, it will be the first time that the 65-seat House will have met since the two-month parliamentary recess ended on October 10.

The Clerk is already on record as saying that only government can call a sitting of the Assembly.

The delay in convening a sitting comes at a time when an Alliance For Change-sponsored no-confidence motion is set to be debated by the Opposition-controlled House. The main opposition A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) has publicly stated that its priority is not a no-confidence motion but getting the government to hold long overdue Local Government Elections.

Government Chief Whip Gail Teixeira has suggested that the Donald Ramotar administration is not fearful of convening a sitting or addressing the AFC’s no-confidence motion.

The Speaker says that he relied on opinions by two former Speakers –one each from the government and opinions- to ask the Clerk to convene the sitting. In essence, that advice states that the Assembly shall meet day by day unless otherwise decided by the members.

Mr Trotman reasons that since the Assembly automatically went into recess on August 10, it automatically came out of recess on October 10 and so the House should have been convened on the first working day.

He told the Clerk that he has taken full responsibility for the adjournment of the House on July 10 to a date to be fixed, adding that an open-ended adjournment is tantamount to a violation of the constitutional mandate for the Assembly to meet day by day