The Clerk of Guyana’s National Assembly, Sherlock Isaacs looks set to refuse an instruction by the Speaker, Raphael Trotman to re-convene the National Assembly next Thursday.
The House has not met since July 10 when government moved for an adjournment to a date to be fixed. Eventually, the two-month parliamentary recess came and ended on October 10 with no idea when it will be reconvened.
Since receiving the Speaker’s instruction, the Clerk has been canvassing opinions from his colleagues across the Caribbean. Mr. Isaacs says his counterparts in Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago have so far told him that it’s only the government that can re-convene the House if no date has been fixed.
Mr. Isaacs acknowledges that the relevant parliamentary rule does not cater for when the government does not have majority control of the House and in this case it’s the opposition that has a one-seat majority.
While the Clerk hints strongly that he will stick by the Standing Order that requires the government to re-convene the House in the current circumstances, he tells me that that rule should be amended.
The Clerk criticized the Speaker’s seeking of opinions from previous Speakers, saying that their interpretations would not be objective. Mr Isaacs says he may seek legal advice from a neutral person before making a final decision.
Speaker of the National Assembly, Raphael Trotman, however, believes that the advice coming from the rest of the Caribbean does not take account of the minority status of the government.
He argues that the Assembly can re-convene in the same way that parliamentary sectoral and special committees have resumed their work.
The failure by the Government and Opposition Chief Whips to reach agreement on the re-convening of the Assembly comes at a time when an Alliance For Change (AFC)-sponsored no-confidence motion is pending. If passed, the President and Cabinet would have to resign and prepare for elections in three months or longer if agreed by the majority of members.
The main opposition A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) is not enthusiastic about the no-confidence motion as it is for long-delayed Local Government Elections. Nevertheless, APNU has pledged to vote with AFC in passing the no-confidence motion when that time comes.