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Granger shuts door to talks, expects street protests if President suspends Parliament

President Donald Ramotar taking the salute at the Rembrance Day Parade

Even as President Donald Ramotar has made up his mind to suspend Guyana’s Parliament to avert the passage of a no-confidence motion, Opposition Leader David Granger on Sunday appeared to shut the door to future talks to end a political stalemate on several issues.

Speaking with the media after the Remembrance Day Wreath Laying Service at the Cenotaph in Georgetown, Granger said it was pointless talking outside the halls of the National Assembly.

“We can’t engage with a gun at our heads. This National Assembly is a forum for national debate. It’s the voice of the people. I can’t see how he can expect us to prorogue the Parliament and expect us to have any discussions under duress. The place for discussions is in the National Assembly. If he shuts it down, then he shuts down dialogue,” he said.

Asked if the President invited him for talks whether he would attend, the Opposition Leader said he could not see what he would be asked to discuss that could not be part of deliberations of the National Assembly. “I have exhausted my discussion with the President and he has taken a line which I feel is undemocratic and un-called for,” he said, adding that the Guyanese leader must bear the brunt of the consequences including possible street protests.

Granger said he would not encourage supporters of his A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) to accept the suspension of the Parliament. “Heaven knows what the people do . The people are angry…” The Opposition Leader did not believe that protests would result in widening of an ethnic rift between Afro-Guyanese, largely his political base, and Ramotar’s  East Indo-based supporters.  “I don’t believe so. I believe that the dissatisfaction with the PPP (governing People’s Progressive Party ) has crossed ethnic lines,” he said.

But the moments after taking the salute at the parade  by members of the Joint Services, the President acknowledged that he has made up his mind  to either prorogue or dissolve the Parliament.  Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment, Robert Persaud said Sunday night that the President would be proroguing the law-making body to allow for fresh talks on a number of outstanding issues.

Told that Granger said that he would shut the door to future talks, the President said “all those things are ahead of us. Let’s wait and see.”  The President insisted that “speaking for me, I have never closed any door to talks and I am not closing any door to talks.”

 He maintained that his impending decision would be the best one for Guyana. “Every decision that I have made in my political life has always been in the interest of this country,” he said.

The Alliance For Change (AFC) and APNU have vowed to go ahead with a debate on the no-confidence motion when the National Assembly meets on Monday for the first time since the two-month recess ended on October 10.

Ramotar has already threatened to either prorogue Parliament or dissolve it and call fresh elections if the opposition decides to interrupt government’s parliamentary agenda by proceeding with the no-confidence motion.